Saturday, 21 July 2012

MailOnline and Egypt's 'sex after death law'

On 13 July, the PCC published details of a complaint against the Mail that seems to have actually been resolved at the end of May.

MailOnline added this to the end of an article:

This article has been edited to deal with complaints that our original was inaccurate. We apologise to readers who were offended by our first story.

What was the 'first story'?

Outrage as Egypt plans 'farewell intercourse law' so husbands can have sex with DEAD wives up to six hours after their death.

That article claimed:

Egyptian husbands will soon be legally allowed to have sex with their dead wives - for up to six hours after their death. The controversial new law is part of a raft of measures being introduced by the Islamist-dominated parliament.

Except it wasn't. The headline of the MailOnline article now reads:

Egypt's 'plans for farewell intercourse law so husbands can have sex with DEAD wives' branded completely false

'Branded' false. Not is false. And the story says:

The controversial new 'farewell intercourse' law was claimed, in Arab media, to be part of a raft of measures being introduced by the Islamist-dominated parliament.

And indeed the claims did originate 'in Arab media'. But the MailOnline (and others) repeated them without much, if any, fact-checking. There's background on the story here and here.

But, as Dan Murphy pointed out in the Christian Science Monitor:

The problem is that there was never any such proposal, at any stage of consideration, in the Egyptian parliament. Ms. [Mervat el-Tallawy, the head of Egypt's National Council for Women] issued a statement today that says she's concerned about legislation that may harm the position of women in Egypt, but that there was never any "sex after death law" under consideration, let alone one she complained about. Arabiya followed up as well, quoting Parliament Secretary Sami Mahran as saying no such piece of legislation ever existed.

So MailOnline has now apologised. Not for getting it wrong, but 'to readers who were offended by our first story'.

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