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Violence Against Women And Role Of Media

By Kamala Sarup

Media had still not played effective roles in minimizing domestic violence
against women even, media can play a lead role in the society's fight against
violence against women. As media is the eye, ear and limbs of the society
they could help a great deal in mitigating violence against women.

The media's role should be to expose and generate awareness against


society's ills and evils, therefore their role should be still more effective. The
media has to be more aware of violence against women. Even, many women
have said that the media coverage (of rape or other violence) was like a
second assault all over again, because of their insensitivity in using pictures,
publishing names, and other violations of privacy.

We have some questions. Will media play a pivotal role in stopping injustices
to women? Will media sit together and discuss serious issues inhibiting
woman's ability to enjoy right to freedom and right to equality?

News coverage of violence against women has often been sensational,


exploitative, and lacking in serious analysis of the prevalence. However,
media coverage and depictions of sexual assault and domestic violence have
begun to change. Although problems remain. Media also have a duty to report
accurately on acts of violence against women. Although some in the media
are to be commended for their ongoing efforts to reflect sensitive, diverse, and
egalitarian images, others in the media still incorporate images that convey
destructive messages. Still women's bodies are used as objects to sell
products. Media should highlight injustices meted out to women by the male
dominated society. Media's growing role in highlighting violence against
women and stressed the need for creating awareness among the victim
women about their rights, so that they could protect themselves.

A Multi-Country Study, is a comprehensive analysis of domestic violence in


nine developing countries based on data from Demographic and Health
Surveys finds high rates of domestic violence in all cases and specifies that
over 40% of women in several countries report being victims of spousal or
intimate partner abuse. In summary, the number of ever-married women
reporting spousal physical or sexual abuse was highest in Zambia (48%),
Colombia (44%), and Peru (42%) and lowest in Cambodia (18%), India (19%),
and the Dominican Republic (22%). About one in three women in Egypt
(34%), Nicaragua (30%) and Haiti (29%) reported such abuse. Interestingly, in
most countries, the highest rates of violence occur in moderately wealthy
households and not, as commonly assumed, among the poorest households.
Women are most at risk at home and from men they know, usually a family
member or spouse.

A new report by global human rights group, Amnesty International accuses


countries the world over of failing to protect women, saying one in three of
them continues to face violence in and outside home. Amnesty says millions
of women are beaten, raped, murdered, assaulted or mutilated - only because
they are women. At least one in three women faces serious violence, it says
quoting a study based on 50 surveys conducted across the world. The 122-
page report - called 'It's in our hands - Stop Violence against Women' -
stresses that women are subjected to violence at the hands of the state or
armed groups, the community or their own family. Violence takes different
forms.
The role of media is crucial to the issue of violence against women, both in
terms of how media cover the issue, and how media may be used as a tool to
help activists and governments raise awareness and implement programs on
this issue.media should also project the means to combat violence.

Pratyoush Onta stated in his report "The mainstream media is very much
politicized and it picks up women issues according to the political interest of
patron political parties. Due to the lack of resources and trained work force,
the media is not capable to produce widely impressive materials. Some of the
women issues like trafficking, prostitution and rape come in the media just to
create sensation. The media seems to be less concerned about women's
issues and rights. the following recommendations can be advanced for futher
action regarding media advocacy to combat violence against women.

The networks of NGOs, advocating for women's cause, should try to include
media in their network, they should not see media as their adversary.The
women's advocacy NGOs, networks alliances should maintain transparency in
their organizational structure, financial source and activities. They should feel
free to provide information about their organizations and activities. It is not
enough to inform people that VAW is increasing in our society, it is also
imperative to let them know that there are ways to diminish the VAW and what
actions can be taken to deal with particular case of VAW. Sometimes media
itself becomes a cause to provoke VAW and materials presented by it can be
called as an act of VAW. For example, defaming false remark about some
woman in the media may cause her to suffer. Publication of obscene materials
is an act of VAW for it demean women's dignity. The media should be
conscious to present women in their right perspective. The persons working in
the media should be made conscious and sensitive about gender issues and
women's human rights. despite media's exposure of violence, women and
their families were still unwilling or afraid to come forward to take advantage of
whatever laws were on the statute book for the protection of women".

Media had been exhibiting a great deal of violence, but the problem arose
because the morals and ethics of a particular incident were underemphasised
and the acts of violence were overemphasised. Media held a mirror that
exposed the ills of society. Though cases of violence against women have
always existed, the media has to play an important role in taking up the
issues. In addition to various brutal forms of violence against women, there
are some lesser offences including wife-battering, unnecessary restrictions,
like not allowing the wife to go out, etc. Despite being considered as a
violation of human rights, these practices are, more or less, accepted in our
society.

Beena Sarwar, a TV producer in Pakistan, said media did play a role in


combating violence against women. She referred to the Meerawala incident
where the victim did not want to speak about her ordeal, but it was a local
journalist who reported the incident, which was then taken up by national and
international media who brought the case to the limelight and serious action
was taken against the criminals.

Even Media had helped in promoting human rights, so media should act as a
pressure group against these injustices.

The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against


Women defines Violence Against Women as such: ' Violence against women
is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and
women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women
by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that
violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which
women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men. Some
groups of women, such as belonging to minority groups, indigenous women,
refugee women, migrant women, women living in rural or remote
communities, destitute women, women in institutions or in detention, female
children, disabled women, elderly women and women in situations of armed
conflict, are especially vulnerable to violence'.

"Increasing rates of trafficking and alarming increases in HIV/AIDS infection in


women and children, fuelled by gender inequalities, stigmatization, violence
and discriminatory attitudes, as well as the widespread use of sexual violence
as a weapon of intimidation and war, amply demonstrated the continued
relevance of international commitments to eliminate violence against women
and the urgent need for concerted international action". Women activist Puja
Budhathoki said.

Existing discriminatory laws, lack of support system for survivors of trafficking,


and lack of specific laws on sexual assaults have further aided the rise in
violence against women. Due to murder, rape, sexual abuse, battering, mental
torture and various other kinds of violence, women of every community, class,
level and economic status were being deprived form the rights of living with
dignity.Thus, the demand that living free from violence is women's human
rights had been raised globally. Violence is committed against every weaker
group. She argued. Even recently, women rights activists stress on the need
to ratify the optional protocol of Convention on the Elimination of all forms of
Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to end all types of violence against
women. Nepal ratified the CEDAW in 1991. CEDAW states that member
countries should end all discrimination against women. Although the
government has already signed its Optional Protocol, ratification has yet to be
made. The protocol authorizes the CEDAW committee to intervene in case
severe violence is not addressed.

Even after years of signing and ratifying the Convention on Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), women continue to suffer
from serious discrimination and violence all over the world.

In order to better enforce women's human rights and fully implement the
CEDAW, the UN had adopted the Optional Protocol in 1999 including
provisions of access to justice for women at the international level. The UN
General Assembly adopted the Optional Protocol because violations of
women's human rights remain widespread in all societies and cultures and
because women are not aware of their rights and have difficulty getting
remedies for violations of these rights. Activists believe that the Optional
Protocol benefit women by catalyzing changes in national law and practices
by motivating government to ensure that the Convention is implemented at the
national level and national remedies are effective in order to avoid being
called to account at the international level. Likewise, it could also provide
redress for individual victims. "Cultural and social norms of patriarchal family
and society are the root cause of violence against women. change in
patriarchal society and traditional thinking could be the solution to the render
biased violence. Women are victimised in the name of religion and tradition. It
is difficult to change the conservative mind of people but slowly we will have to
try to change the tradition. Good implementation of laws and clear concept at
the policy making level are the most important things to change the society."
Puja argued. So, violence against women, in any of its forms, should never be
condoned or romanticized under any circumstances. Media have the power to
help create healthy communities in part by portraying healthy, constructive
communities. By increasing access to confidential resources and information
about sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking and by
improving law enforcement communication between jurisdictions, media are
critical to ending violence against women and girls. As with most positive
technological developments, potential negative impacts are inherent and
should be addressed. So, media should develop story lines, images,
characters, programs, and products that promote healthy attitudes toward
women, masculinity, relationships, and sexuality. Media should provide fair
and full coverage of women in politics, sports, business, health, and
education.