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16 Days of Activism: Gender Based Violence and the media

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In the past few months there seems to have been a drastic increase in media reports on gender-based violence with all manner of atrocities coming to light. We have heard reports of women being stabbed with kitchen knives, burnt with irons, and hacked with machetes.  It would seem that media coverage on GBV is on the rise. However, the media is not giving a comprehensive and gender-sensitive picture of GBV, but a sensationalized one. Pat Made of Genderlinks observed that most reporting on the issue is featured in the ‘Courts and Crime’ section of newspapers and that the issue of GBV is coming to the news agendas as events “and not as an issue that’s having a negative impact on the economic, social, and political fabric of our society.” She proceeded to say that the media “is not reporting it as a national issue, nor is it going further to put it into the context of the policy framework, and what needs to be done, in terms of the rights of women and girls. We don’t get that kind of coverage of reporting, which is more informed and helps us as citizens to be able to get a different kind of perception and conceptual way of dealing with the issue.”

Last year, Genderlinks, conducted a Gender and Media Progress Study for Zimbabwe to monitor how the different media in the country reported on and handled issues of gender. The study also included a detailed analysis of media coverage of gender-based violence in 2010, revealing that the proportion of stories on GBV were only 3% of total stories in the media in Zimbabwe, while the figures for the SADC region were not much better, at 4%. It will be interesting to see what the findings for this year’s study will reveal.

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