Australian newspaper's 'shemale' headline about murder victim Mayang Prasetyo sparks outrage

The paper has been criticised for front page on death of Mayang Prasetyo

Lizzie Dearden
Wednesday 08 October 2014 06:51
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Mayang Prasetyo was found dead at the apartment she shared with her boyfriend
Mayang Prasetyo was found dead at the apartment she shared with her boyfriend

An Australian newspaper has provoked outrage by calling a murdered transgender woman a “she-male” and a “ladyboy”.

Mayang Prasetyo, from Indonesia, was allegedly murdered and dismembered by her boyfriend Marcus Volke, who killed himself after reportedly being caught “cooking” her remains on Saturday.

The gruesome case was sensationally reported in the Courier-Mail, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp.

Its front page headline on Tuesday read “Monster Chef and the She-Male”, featuring a picture of Ms Prasetyo, 27, in a bikini and an inside story was headlined “Ladyboy and the Butcher”.

As outrage spread on social media, a petition was launched under the name of the Brisbane Trans Community, where the murder took place, demanding an apology from the newspaper.

It had been signed by more than 16,000 people by Tuesday morning.

The Courier-Mail's front page provoked outrage

Quoting the Courier-Mail 's own code of conduct that stipulates no details of sexual preferences must be included “unless they are relevant”, it argues that the reporting was unnecessary and dehumanising.

The petition continues: “The transgender community experience some of the highest levels of violence in any minority and the propagation, scandalisation and trivialisation of stories like this which diminish a horrific domestic violence crime to a focus on transsexualism (which for the record is no longer the appropriate terminology) does nothing but perpetuate this violent cycle.

“News Limited should be deeply ashamed of the terminology used in this story as well as the clear 'victim blaming' it implies.”

The paper has changed the online headline to “Killed and cooked trans woman was high-class sex worker”.

Hundreds of people took to social media to criticise the paper, questioning its decision to run bikini photos.

Manoj Subramaniam wrote on Facebook: “The headline this morning is truly disgusting and brings shame to true journalism. An innocent person is killed and this is the best you could come up with? What happened to media ethics?”

Neither the Courier-Mail nor News Corp have responded to criticism but Australia’s Press Council has confirmed it is investigating the Queensland tabloid.

Ms Prasetyo and Volke reportedly met while both working on a cruise ship and started living together in Brisbane, where he was employed as a chef.

She worked as a transgender model and cabaret performer in the city.

Friends of Ms Prasetyo said the couple wed in August 2013 abroad but the marriage was not legally recognised because as pre-operation transgender woman, she was still officially deemed a man.

Marcus Volke is believed to have killed himself after being caught disposing of her remains

Queensland Police are treating their deaths as a murder-suicide after being called to their flat and discovering human remains in a chemical stew.

Australian media reported that Volke ran from police when they arrived, fleeing through a back door and jumping over a balcony, leaving a smear of blood on a railing.

His body was later found in an industrial bin, where he appeared to have taken his life.

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