Saturday, May 8, 2021

Media urged to be sensitive when reporting on GBV

The 16 days of activism against violence on women and children which began on the 25th of November and cumulating on the 10th of December may have passed yet the violence persists. Gender-based violence (GBV) is a concern across the globe, with Botswana being placed as the second runner by the World Population Review (2019) on rape cases at 92.2 per 100000 citizens after South Africa. Violence against women and children violates and impairs the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Hence, there is need to sensitise the community on issues of Gender-based violence (GBV). There is expectation that the media as a link in the society have an obligation to play a big role in educating and informing the public, by keeping them up to date on matters that affect them the most. It can either build or damage, that is why care needs to be taken when addressing sensitive issues such as gender-based violence (GB V) which is a chilling topic to all, looking at the way the numbers of women and children being abused rising every day.

Senior councillor for Botswana Gender Based Violence prevention and support centre (BGBVC) Kitso Motlhale said that they are working hand-in hand with the media in terms halting gender-based violence as the way they report stories plays a major role in the recovery of the survivors, families and dealing with police cases.“The way the media report their stories can either break a survivor’s confidence and disempower them to report such cases in the future as their lives are being displayed out there, and there are high chances of being shamed and blamed by the community after the stories gets published, she said.”

Kitso pointed out that media needs to sensitize the community and raise awareness on how they can receive help and relevant authorities to see when they are faced with such issues. The way Gender-based violence is reported should be put in such a way that it sensitizes with the survivor and not pose a threat, as some of the perpetrators may be out there and end up committing the same crime after looking at the stories published about them.‘ ’To some extent media portray women as weak and powerless, she said’’.

Which should not be the case as they are not supposed to be blamed and mocked for their misfortunes. Headlines and visuals accompanying the stories should not be put in a way that it discourages survivors to voice out in such cases. Women Against Rape (WAR) executive director Peggie Ramaphane lamented that there is a lot that needs to be done to prevent issues of gender-based violence. “This is because our society does not take women and children seriously as they are always questioned after being abused.”

“Women are always questioned about the clothes they wore after being abused and if they were walking at night or drinking alcohol for the abuse to have taken place. This really shows that women are always blamed for the violence they encounter in such a way that it is believed that they brought it upon themselves, she said. ”Media should try to give survivors privacy and confidentiality they need to deal with their issues in a way that it will not further harm their emotional wellbeing and confidence. They should also avoid headlines and visual content that points a finger to women and children who have been abused.

Peggie pointed out that there should be workshops between the NGO’s and the media in order to educate each other on how to report and handle sensitive issues such as GBV.A re-survey by the Botswana National Relationship study (2018) reveals that 2 in 3, which is 67% of women have experienced abuse of some sort in their lifetime, which is over double the global coverage. Last year alone over 264 cases, in Botswana were reported as offences of gender-based violence (GBV) since December 14th to January 3rd. This really shows that we still have a long way in repressing this issue.

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