Published Date: Apr 26, 2011
Violence against women – Media?s role appreciated
Islamabad—Speakers at a seminar lauded the role of media in generating public awareness on issues of Violence against Women (VAW); however they emphasized that “media should also act as a positive catalyst for change, rather than merely acting as a mirror of society.”
A group of committed women and men gathered here on Monday to discuss the issues of VAW and the role media in relation to it. Bushra Iqbal, Associate Producer of Geo TV; Sumera Abbasi, Project Coordinator of Uks (NGO); Imdad Hussain, Editor of Online News Agency; Ms. Mome Saleem, Researcher spoke at a seminar on “Role of Media in Addressing Violence against Women” organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
It was noted at the seminar that “communication can be one of the most powerful tools” to address the issues of VAW. In “Changing cultural and social norms that support violence”, the WHO confirms that media – which have been successful in addressing a wide range of issues – could play a bigger role in fighting violence. The participants talked about the importance of raising awareness of the issue through the media.
Ms Saleem shared findings of a recently conducted research which highlights that media played a pivotal role in addressing the violence against women. “We collected about 40 case studies on incident of VAW and found out that in 25 of the cases, media was instrumental in influencing authorities and helping the victims.”
Ms Bushra expressed that although the media is positively highlighting incidents of VAW, “but the issue it is still not getting adequate space.” She suggested ways to improve news standards and stressed upon humanitarian reporting by creating awareness, training, editorial compliance, providing resources and insurance to the journalists.
Sumera Abbasi said that media can play an important role in the shaping of perceptions around women and their role in society.
“Influence of the media has been instrumental in breaking the silence on a number of social evils, like gender violence, discriminatory practices”, she added. Mr. 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.
Sara Duke, a Research Fellow at SDPI said that VAW is present all over the world. Despite the tremendous gains of the 20th century, discrimination and violence against women and girls remain firmly rooted in cultures around the world. “Up to one in three women around the world has been abused in some way in her lifetime,” she added, quoting UN report.
Two local reporters Manzoor Soomro from Sindh and And Ali Jan Mangi from Balochistan gave account of tribal acts, mind set, snd difficulties they face during daily reporting on the taboo issues.
Mr Ali Jan Magsi added that at times 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.