Published Date: Apr 25, 2011
Role of Media in Addressing Violence Against Women (SDPI PRESS RELEASE)
ISLAMABAD: (25 April 2011) Speakers of the seminar appreciated the positive role of media to generate public awareness addressing Violence against Women, and said that Media is serving as catalyst in providing justice to the victims of gender violence .
Bushra Iqbal, Associate Producer, Geo Television Network, Sumera Abbasi, Project Coordinator, Uks, Imdad Hussain, Editor, Online News Agency , Mome Saleem, Research Associate, (SDPI), Ali Jan Mangi, Local Reporter, and Manzor Somoro, Local Reporter spoke at a seminar on “Role of Media in Addressing Violence Against Women” organized by Sustainable Development policy Institute here on Monday at SDPI seminar hall. The seminar was moderated by Sara Duke, Associate Research Fellow, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Mome Saleem shared findings from her recently conducted research which highlights that media played a very pivotal role in addressing the violence against women. She said that they collected about 40case studies on incident of violence against women and found out that in 25 of the cases, media was instrumental in influencing authorities and helping the victims.
She also narrated stories of two rape victims 15 years old Asma Khand and 12 years old Anam, who were raped and denied justice but after persistent media coverage, relevant authorities were forced to act, and get case registered. She pointed some gaps such as juicy reporting of rape incidents and insisted upon shifting focus to punishment of culprits and projection of positive developments in violence against women i.e abolishing of tribal traditions like Sawara and exchange marriages by Ayyaz Khan Jogazai, leader of Pashtun tribes in Qila Saifullah.
Ms Bushra Iqbal expressed that although the media is positively highlighting incidents of violence against women, but it is still not giving adequate space to the subject. She emphasized to focus on reporters, desk editors, and key decision makers to allocate more space on the issue. She suggested ways to improve news standards and stress upon humanitarian reporting by creating awareness, sensitization, training, editorial compliance, providing resources and especially insurance to the journalists.
Mr. Imdad Hussain mentioned violence against women as being rooted in culture and the social belief systems a society adheres to, rather than being rooted in religion or politics. He urged upon media and NGO’s to challenge the ethical grounds of social norms which allow violence against women. Referring to tradition of sawara, he asked why the women has to bear the brunt of something wrong committed by her brother, father, cousin or any one else?
Two local reporters Manzoor Soomro from Sindh and And Ali Jan Mangi from Balochistan gave account of tribal acts, mind set, ordeal and difficulties they face during daily reporting on the taboo issues like violence against women. Manzoor Soomro told story of Sughra bibi how she was beaten, tortured and burnt with hot steel rod by her husband and his brother, just on informing her mother of husbands impotency. Local police refused to listen to their plea and the family was not supported by locals as well. When Manzoor Soomro broke the story on his channel, other media followed and police, after much reluctance, registered the report.
Mr Ali Jan Magsi add that sometime victims get pressurized and change statements , which creates problems for media persons, damaging their credibility and inciting encouragements to offenders and further suppressing other victims .
Sumera Abbasi said that media can play an important role in the shaping of perceptions around women and their role in society. She said that media has definitely helped to generate public awareness of the multiple problems facing women, such as violence of various kinds. She further added that the influence of the media has already been established in various instances in the past. It worked as an opinion maker by promoting democracy over dictatorship, and as an impetus driver when it supported the judicial movement. The influence of the media as a persuader is visible in the passing of the act on sexual harassment at the workplace bill. It has been instrumental in breaking the silence on a number of social evils, like gender violence, discriminatory traditions and practices, etc.
Sara Duke concluded that media can and does perform two paradoxical roles in addressing violence against women. It can serve as a forum to merely reflect discriminatory attitudes and beliefs which further propagates acts of violence against women and the acceptance of it by a society, or it can serve as the voice for change by raising awareness on the issue in a sensitive manner. The media can and should be a positive catalyst for change, rather than merely exist as a “looking glass” of society