Belfast Telegraph

Magaluf girl: Teen from Northern Ireland an innocent abroad thrown to lions

By Gail Walker

What happened to the 18-year-old young woman from Northern Ireland in Magaluf isn't primarily an example of society going to the dogs, or a warning of the dangers of getting drunk, or the stupidity of bowing to peer pressure.

On the contrary, what happened (and, yes, I do mean that passive turn of phrase) to the teenager is first and foremost a personal tragedy – and one no less poignant because her humiliation has been surrounded by a cruel chorus of schoolyard sniggering and holier-than-thou sermonising.

Her disgrace – including her name – is just a couple of clicks away on the internet, where footage of her performing a sex act on 24 men in two minutes is freely available.

That the motivation to degrade herself was the prospect of winning a holiday only adds to the desperately depressing nature of this saga – the prize was, in fact, a cocktail called the "holiday".

We can all ponder how it came to this. The stupidity. The lack of self-respect and self-esteem. The drink taken. The gullibility. The freedom of being abroad. Who knows?

But her shaming is now out there in cyberspace, where it will float around like an old satellite for years to come, sending out a signal when she least expects it to.

As for now? It will take every ounce of her emotional courage, not to mention the love and support of her family, to battle through this. Born-again Christians, her parents are said to have forgiven their daughter. None of them are likely to ever forget this, though. For some, she will always be that girl from the Magaluf video.

Just check out Twitter. The vast majority of the comments are of the slut-shaming variety, with people being "sickened" and "disgusted" at the scenes they were forced to watch by their own fingertips hovering over their own mouse as they frantically searched online at their own computers.

There is, however, precious little anger at the company who organised the event, Carnage Magaluf.

Yet what happened on that internet footage was as much to do with it as the actions of an intoxicated 18-year-old.

They can protest all they want about her taking part of her own consent. But it was they who set up the bar crawl and the "competition". It was they who encouraged the 24 men to take part in the "challenge". It was their DJ who apparently kept count of the tally the young woman notched up on the dancefloor. And it was they who came up with the sick joke of the prize.

Add to that the pressure "not to be so uptight" and some goon with a smartphone and you have the perfect storm for a mortification of unimaginable consequences.

What happened on Magaluf has about as much to do with "free consent" as the Christians and the lions in ancient times. Those of us who grew up in the Eighties and Nineties have much to be thankful for. Aside from the fact that, for many, the raunchiest night they spent was reading Sally Beauman's Destiny, or watching The Camomile Lawn on Channel 4 after shooing their parents to bed, it was a more forgiving age.

I don't just mean that there wasn't the technology around back then to record and distribute the humiliation of others. But it was also a time when we were less anaethetised to the horror of reality and pain.

Shows like Big Brother were still upstream; we'd yet to learn what nasty fun could be had from filming real-life fools, then flaying them half to death afterwards for what they said or did.

Accuse me of rose-tinted spectacles if you like, but I honestly don't believe a woman would have been hunted down and exposed like that back then.

And men would have felt anger and shame at being part of the event, too. As it is, no one seems in a rush to track these lads down and find out why they debased themselves – and readily took part in the humiliation of a teenager. Plenty of scorn, vitriol and malice for the young woman, but what sort of bloke exposes himself like that?

What happened in Magaluf seems like the exploitation of an innocent abroad. But that doesn't stop the name-callers and the hypocrites.

Yet where is the anger? Where is our sense of protecting our own? No, much easier to gawp into a computer and assure ourselves that "she knew what she was getting into".

In other words, blame the victim.

It seems that all this girl did was get drunk and then do something silly. But look at the others – the organisers, the volunteer blokes, those who egged her on, those who didn't stop her, those who cheered, those who filmed, those who uploaded the footage.

And those who viewed. And judged.

When you think about it, what happened in Magaluf does say a lot – but it says a lot about us all, not just some 18-year-old girl.

  • Follow me on Twitter: @GWalker9

Belfast Telegraph


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