Posts Tagged ‘Gender Based Violence’

Media have critical role in breaking silence on violence against women

November 23, 2019

Swapna Majumdar wrote in the Daily Pioneer of 22 November 2019 “Don’t muzzle their voices”  about what role the media can play in the discourse on violence against women, human rights and empowerment?  Can it help survivors? How can the media be leveraged to change perceptions and end gender-based violence?

These are some of the questions that came up at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD+25) Summit held in Nairobi recently. A session focussed on the importance of the media in either shifting or perpetuating attitudes toward  gender-based violence in the context of the ICPD. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/11/19/16-days-of-activism-against-gender-based-violence-start-on-25-november-2019/]

“Violence against women is a human rights violation. Violence is about silencing us and the media is about breaking the silence. The media has a critical role to see that this silence is broken and women’s voices are amplified,” said Ing Kantha Phavi, Minister of Women’s Affairs of Cambodia. … However, the persistence of social stereotyping and social attitudes towards women prevented them from seeking help and services. This is where the media can help as it continues to play a crucial role globally in key conversations. The way gender-based violence (GBV) is covered and reported in the news media can influence the way our communities perceive the issue,” she said.

Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson, an award-winning journalist from Samoa, agreed. “The media is a powerful tool in fighting GBV because they not only report on society but help shape public opinion and perceptions,” she contended. The Chief Editor of JiG, Jackson said that the language used by the media was critical and it had to be careful not to normalise sexual harassment, objectify women or blame survivors. Studies have shown that gender inequalities tend to get reinforced by media content that contributes to the normalisation of sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence. There is a tendency to reproduce stereotypes that associate violence by men as a symbol of their masculinity and power. Many news reports of violence against women tend to represent women as victims and as responsible for the violence.

Unfortunately, this is what has happened in Syria, according to Jafar Irshaidat, communications specialist, UNFPA, Syria. “We found that the media could play a harmful role in generating stereotyping and perpetuating certain myths about GBV. Their news reports also harmed survivors directly by disclosing their identities and shifting the blame away from the perpetrators. So we are working with the media on how they can change the narrative,” he said. This is where women journalists are making the difference.  In India, one of the important examples of how the media used its influence to impact positive change was seen by the reportage, by women journalists in particular, around the Delhi gang-rape in December 2012. This led to public mobilisation and the enactment of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013. This mandated the compulsory filing of First Information Reports (FIRs) in police stations, something that was neglected earlier. It also criminalised various kinds of attacks on women, including stalking, acid attacks and stripping.

“Women journalists have made significant contribution to changing the narrative and defending human rights through their reporting on gender-based violence,” stated Krishanti Dharmaraj, Executive Director, Centre for Women in Global Leadership (CWGL).  The CWGL, a global women’s rights organisation based out of Rutgers University is the founder and coordinator of the ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’, an international campaign used by activists around the world to eliminate of all forms of GBV.

“Women journalists who cover stories about gender-based violence are human rights defenders in their own right. They often face challenges, including misogynistic attacks online and offline, as a result of their work. “They also face the challenge of dealing with their own trauma as they help another girl or woman secure justice,” says Sarah Macharia, Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP). The GMMP is the largest and longest-running research and advocacy initiative on gender equality in the world’s news media.

Implemented collaboratively with grassroots and national-level women’s rights groups, other civil society organisations, associations and unions of media professionals, university students and researchers around the world, the GMMP aims to advance gender equality in and through the media by gathering evidence on disparities in portrayal, representation and voice of women compared to men.

The latest GMMP study showed a decline in stories that focussed on gender violence, including issues such as rape, sexual assault, family violence, female genital mutilation and trafficking. At the same time, there were progressively higher proportions of women as sources in GBV stories.

“In 2005, women were 38 per cent of the people seen, heard or spoken about in the stories, compared to 46 per cent in 2015, a rise of almost 10 points in 10 years. At least three quarters of those who experience gender-based violence are women and yet, they constitute less than one half of people interviewed or are the subject of these stories,” said Sarah Macharia, GMMP coordinator. However,  even women journalists are reporting fewer of the stories. Macharia pointed out that in 2010, women journalists reported 41 per cent of the stories, compared to 30 per cent in 2015, a fall of 11 per cent in five years.

Last year, a survey conducted by the International Women’s Foundation and Troll Busters found women journalists, who experienced online abuse, reported short-term and long-term emotional and psychological effects. About 40 per cent had avoided reporting certain stories as a result of these incidents.

In India, the #MeToo movement has been a catalyst to tackle GBV violence in the media with many women journalists coming out to share their stories of sexual assault and harassment. However, hardly any media organisation has provided physical security, legal advice and psychological support to women journalists affected by sexual violence and sexual harassment.

Women journalists face a triple risk:  Risk as every other woman; the same risks as their male colleagues and risks that impact them specifically because they are women journalists. Unless impunity for attacks on women journalists ends, these risks will continue to impact their work.

https://www.dailypioneer.com/2019/columnists/don—t-muzzle-their-voices.html

Multimedia campaigns can help prevent gender-based violence in Pakistan

November 1, 2019

The report below was published in Dawn. It shows that thinking about multimedia tools in the struggle against gender-based violence is alive and well at the ground level where it matters most:

Speakers at the Media Conference in Peshawar on Thursday 17 October 2019 called for the resolution of the issues of media persons to enable them to effectively play their role as human rights defenders. The event titled ‘media, gender and right to service’ highlighted the significance of different mediums of media and stressed the need for their use for the eradication of sexual and gender-based violence and change in the people’s attitudes towards social issues through better awareness.

It was organised by Blue Veins in collaboration with the Peshawar Press Club and Right to Public Service Commission. Provincial anti-harassment ombudsperson Rukhshanda Naz said gender-based violence was one of the most prevalent human rights abuses. She said journalists could play a fundamental role in highlighting the voice of the people, whose rights were violated. Ms Naz said media could help highlight interventions and change attitudes, practices and behaviours, which drove violence against women.

Chief Commissioner of the Right to Public Services Commission Mohammad Mushtaq Jadoon said the media was playing the role of an ‘agenda setter’, which could easily disseminate information and influence public opinion. He said the use of modern media tactics could promote human rights.

Programme coordinator of Blue Veins Qamar Naseem said media was one of the pillars of power to influence public attitudes and social structure. He said the government and non-government service providers were struggling to improve response services to gender-based violence, so they needed to become skilled at engaging journalists in their coordinated efforts as an integral part of advocacy.

Journalists Aqeel Yousafzai and Waseem Ahmad called for the adoption of multimedia engagement approach. They said an intensive multimedia campaign would help reduce and prevent gender-based violence and ensure that the survivors have safe and improved access to services.

Chairman of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Peshawar, Dr Faizullah Jan said to improve the role of media towards better understanding of gender roles, social attitudes and root causes of gender-based violence, there was a need for ensuring adequate capacity development and sensitisation for effective media reporting on gender-based violence issues.

General secretary of Khyber Union of Journalists Mohammad Naeem said such events could suggested actions to policymakers and the media for advocating a stronger legal and regulatory environment to support voluntary, equitable and rights-based programmes. The conference also contributed into the signing of a statement by media representatives promising commitment to addressing sexual and gender-based violence in collaboration with provincial and national stakeholders.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511475

Profile: Bose Agbonmerele, woman human rights defender from Nigeria

July 7, 2016

On 20 June 2016 the ISHR Monitor contained the following portrait of Ms Bose Agbonmerele Iro-Nsi, the founder and team leader of the Women’s Rights and Health Project (WRAHP) in Nigeria. WRAHP is an NGO that works to promote community and women’s rights, reproductive health and children’s development.

Ms Bose Agbonmerele of the Women’s Rights and Health Project (WRAHP) in Nigeria.

As an advocate, Bose focuses on access to justice for women suffering domestic violence, child abuse, and cultural practises that are detrimental to health and contravene fundamental rights of both women and children – an example includes female genital mutilation. Bose seeks to create awareness of existing laws that address domestic violence, and educates vulnerable communities on their rights contained in those laws.

‘WRAHP previously received between 2 and 4 cases of women who had suffered domestic violence each month. Since engaging with the media and speaking publically on the common violation of women and children’s rights, WRAHP now receives about 5 cases and large numbers of calls every day from women in distress.’

Challenges and risks

Cultural norms and practise endorse a system of patriarchy in Nigeria. This means that raising children in an environment rife with domestic violence perpetuates a vicious cycle. Bose highlights the importance of focusing on building awareness within the family, as well within religious institutions and churches – which can then create further awareness about Gender based violence.

‘Gender based violence constitutes a further challenge. Domestic violence is often viewed as a personal domestic dispute, which results in law enforcement agencies turning a blind eye. This further drives a system of impunity among the community. Moreover, the stigma associated with calling the police on your own family member and the lack of independence of women puts them at risk of destitution.’

Bose also identified gaps and loopholes in Nigerian laws and policies that need strengthening. She identified 2 major limitations in the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, which addresses, among other violations, female genital mutilation and acid attacks. This law is restricted to the capital of Nigeria and often imposes fines for offences that should result in more significant penalties.

Some community elders have claimed that WRAHP’s work is intrusive to their culture and traditions. As a result Bose has suffered intimidation. However, she has maintained a holistic approach to raising awareness, including amongst men who might oppose her views.

Engagement with the international community

Bose explained that her experience in Geneva at ISHR Human Rights Defender Advocacy Programme (HRDAP) has broadened her knowledge of UN mechanisms and her perspective about civil society engagement. Going forward Bose intends to incorporate the international networks she has made in Geneva into her existing regional networks. She also intends to engage with Special Procedures mandate holders to increase awareness about the human rights situation in Nigeria.

‘One of the positive aspects of my experience at HRDAP was the opportunity to share experiences with other participants. I learnt about the diverse issues which other human rights advocates face. The organisation of the programme and activities have been great.’

The change Bose would like to see

Through her brief experience at the UN, Bose has noticed the use of the phrase “intimate partner violence”. She believes the use of this phrase in addressing domestic violence overlooks other serious aspects of domestic violence. This term focuses only on partners, disregarding child abuse, parental abuse of children, and violence at the hands of extended family. Bose would like to see a more robust policy addressing all aspects of domestic violence.

Goals and objectives

Bose believes that it is crucial to understand successful strategies used by defenders working on other issues and defenders in different regions. Bose is grateful to have had the opportunity to interact with defenders working on different thematic groups, including LGBTI and business Human Rights issues. She believes that all activists share the same common goal and working together and learning from each other will help to improve advocacy success rates. Bose would like to continue engaging foreign missions to bolster her national advocacy.

In the long run, Bose would like to see herself as a regional and international advocate sharing her experiences on an international platform. She was impressed with the participation of young people in HRDAP and says she would like to encourage other young people to participate in advocacy training sessions in Nigeria.

‘I just can’t recommend HRDAP enough to other people.’

Source: Defender profile: Bose Agbonmerele Iro-Nsi, woman human rights defender from Nigeria | ISHR

Tribute: Remembering Women Human Rights Defenders

November 26, 2014

As part of the 16 Days Campaign Against Gender Based Violence (November 25 – December 10, 2014) AWID is honoring Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) Who Are No Longer With Us.

The tribute was first launched at AWID’s 12th International Forum on Women’s Rights in Development, held in April 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey. The new version of the tribute takes the form of an online photo exhibition launched on 25 November, Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and ends on 10 December, International Human Rights Day with a special slide show featuring 16 WHRDs from around the world. The tribute features photographs and biographies of rights leaders from around the world. Each day of the campaign AWID will share the story of a WHRD(s) on its website as well as through Facebook and Twitter using hashtags #16days and #AWIDMembers and link back to the full online exhibit which will commemorate and celebrate the work and lives of WHRDs who have passed away since January 2011.

An example is Sunila Abeyesekera a lifelong women human rights defender from Sri Lanka, who played a lead role in the global women’s rights movement for over 40 years to be honored on 29 November which is International Women Human Rights Defenders’ Day. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/sri-lankan-hrd-sunila-abeysekera-dies-tribute-by-a-paper-bird/]

About one third of those honored in this tribute were killed or disappeared due to their activism. Women like Agnes Torres, from Mexico, Cheryl Ananayo, from the Philippines who was assassinated as she struggled against a mining company; Colombian women’s human rights defender Angelica Bello who died in suspicious circumstances; and Petite Jasmine, board member of Swedish sex worker’s rights organization Rose Alliance who was murdered by the father of her children, who had threatened and stalked her on numerous occasions.

WHRD Tribute / Women Human Rights Defenders / Our Initiatives / Homepage – AWID.