Media gets gender violence toolkit

In cases involving violence against women, much of what is communicated through the media becomes the “truth”.

“The way we read about gender-based violence affects us subconsciously. If a report highlights facts about the woman’s attire, level of inebriation or the time that she was returning home, it may imply that she was provoking sexual violence, indirectly leading to victim-blaming,” said Japleen Pasricha, director, Feminism in India (FII).

An initiative for sensitising the media about reporting violence against women has become crucial, because the media has the potential to influence and change its audience’s thoughts, said Ms. Pasricha.

Ms. Pasricha was speaking at the release of a media toolkit for reporting cases of gender-based violence in India at the Mumbai Press Club on Tuesday. FII is a Delhi-based platform for sharing ideas and educating the youth about feminism in the country. The toolkit, which is available on the FII website, was unveiled in collaboration with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, a watchdog that seeks better policing in Mumbai.

The toolkit includes guidelines for media personnel about framing the report on sexual violence, the language to be used, writing responsible headlines and recommendations to sensitively interview survivors of gender-based violence. “The word rape is used even in casual conversations among friends, where we hear it thrown around to mean something it does not. This also contributes towards normalising the rape culture. Media can change this perspective with responsible reporting,” Ms. Pasricha said.

FII member Asmita Ghosh, the lead researcher for the toolkit, termed gender-based violence as ‘systemic’. “It is shockingly common, but it does not affect everybody in the same way. Certain groups are more likely to face it,” she said.

Ms. Ghosh also referred to the current trend of ‘episodic reportage’ of gender-based violence, which constitutes 92.3% of reports on the issue across widely-read newspapers. “The media can use thematic reportage, which embeds gender-based violence in a systemic context. Instead of reporting that a woman has ‘alleged’ rape against the perpetrator, one could use the term ‘reported’, because using the former term insinuates that the survivor might be lying. Similarly, placing the term in quotes implies disbelief in the event,” she said.

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 8:27:58 AM |

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