March 19, 2012

Sunday Night probed over "freakshow"

Sunday Night probed over tribe's infanticide portrayal

By Amanda MeadeSEVEN'S current affairs flagship Sunday Night is under investigation by broadcasting authorities for a story which depicted a Brazilian tribe of Suruwaha Indians as a suicide cult that encouraged the murder of disabled babies.

The story, broadcast in September, featured Seven video journalist Tim Noonan and writer and adventurer Paul Raffaele, who famously claimed in 2006 on Nine's 60 Minutes that a child called Wa-Wa had to be rescued from cannibals. Raffaele accompanied Seven's Today Tonight host Naomi Robson on a rescue mission to Indonesia's Papuan province.

Raffaele said in his blog about the Sunday Night broadcast: "Being with the tribe was the peak of my career. But the experience was not only enthralling but deeply disturbing. The Suruwaha practise a bizarre suicide cult, unlike anything I'd ever seen before, where many of the tribe kill themselves with a deadly poison made from tree bark before they reach old age."

Survival International director Stephen Corry said it was "freakshow TV" at its very worst. "The Indians are made out to be cruel and inhuman monsters," he said.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see "Freakshow TV" Campaign Targets Stereotypes.

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