A double dose today. Each story leads with the female accomplice (both are women of colour; both are pictured on the front page) even though they did not carry out the killings and were not facing charges as serious as the men involved. Female medical student and 'hitmen' locked up for 40 years for brutal honey trap murder in revenge for sex attack
The first word of the headline is telling. The rest is gendered, too, especially "honey trap", with its allusion to a sticky sweet substance which gleams gold (see "blonde molls" above).
The first sub-head contains the inevitable verb:
Mundil Mahil lured Gagandip Singh to her room
Animalistic, mesmerising, cold-blooded — "lured" feeds every crappy stereotype going. Why not "invited" or "asked"?
It's only with sub-head #4 that we discover "Mahil claimed she had been raped by Singh six months before his death." The "claimed" is very important here. The report uses distancing language throughout in relation to the same incident: "It emerged during the trial [a nice neutral objective-sounding construct
] that Mr Singh tried to
rape Mahil six months before he died" and "After the attempted
sex attack". Yet the judge concluded: "Exactly six months to the day before his death in the very bedroom where he was to be attacked, he had sexually assaulted you
The headline is also misleading with regards to sentencing. Mahil, the "female honey trapper", got six years, while her accomplices were given much larger sentences of 22 and 12 years, respectively, adding up to a total of 40. By insinuating that Mahil had been sentenced to 40 years herself, as the headline certainly does, the Mail gives the impression that her part in the "brutal" crime must have been greater than it was. So the woman's rape is played down, her part in the killing is played up. But she's a convicted criminal; nobody is going to object.
One last point: the caption beneath the photo reads: "Honeytrap: Mundill Mahil decided to 'play God' when she recruited the men to carry out the fatal attack on businessman Gagandip Singh." The quote does not appear in the story; either it's been cut, or the Mail has made it up. "Playing God" has enormous connotations — it's what Harold Shipman was accused of — and in this case I really don't see what it refers to. She decided to have Mr Singh beaten up: this wasn't premeditated murder. And although I understand the desire to be sensitive to Mr Singh's family, is it really necessary to go down the whole "businessman" angle? He was a rapist. Puffing up his professional achievements isn't going to disguise that.
The second story is:Teenage girl bought knives from Argos and used Facebook to orchestrate Tube station gang fight in front of horrified commuters that left boy, 15, stabbed to death
This is a little harder to analyse as the case is ongoing: there are 20 defendants, 19 of them men. The Mail, though, is interested in Victoria Osoteku. She's not only a "girl" (19 years old — a woman) but a teenager. Ugh. The link with what is for Mail readers an otherworld of urban chavviness is made via the references to Argos, to Facebook and to gangs, and via a photo of the accused, who is black.
According to the Mail's report, Osoteku "was today found guilty of being the ringleader
behind the savage killing". It's something as small as a definite article that distorts the story here. "Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, said: 'She was one of those
who set up and organised the confrontation that led to the death.'" Equally, she "bought a set of knives from Argos with a 17-year-old youth
at lunchtime and gave them to the gang. She was also one of
the teenagers responsible for setting up the fatal showdown." The court has found her guilty, yet the Mail still finds it necessary to exaggerate her role, however subtly, in pursuit of its agenda.
Compare, also, the portrayal of Osoteku as cynical and detached in her role as "orchestrator" and "ringleader" with the depiction of the young men
jailed for murder and manslaughter in the same case, which reads like an action movie and is full of words like "ferocity" and "merciless".