When journalists gathered to x-ray their role in eliminating violence against women, girls
To reduce, and feasibly eradicate violence against women and children in Lagos, and by extension Nigeria, the media must adopt basic principles of journalism of objectivity, honesty, accuracy and accountability.
This was the submission of participants at a four-day media dialogue and training to improve gender sensitivity in reportage and advocacy, to eliminate violence against women and girls in Lagos.
Organised by EU-UN Spotlight Initiative Nigeria, the dialogue, according to Khadijah Ibrahim Nuhu, focused on increasing media network participation, involving in solutions journalism, engaging in gender inequality discourse, and impacting changing positive norms.
Alkasim Abdulkadir, one of the facilitators, while presenting his paper titled: “Etiquette in Reporting Gender” noted that Gender-based violence (GBV) or violence against women and girls (VAWG), is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime.
According to him, going by 2019 statistics, 35 per cent of women globally have experienced either physical or sexual violence from intimate partners or non-partners, seven per cent of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than their partners while six per cent have experienced violence during pregnancy.
While stressing the importance of using data when reporting GBV issues, as this will help in policy, Abdulkadir urged media practitioners not to fabricate data, as there are relevant agencies that can give this information, and also do away with sensationalism when reporting the subject matter.
On her part, Aisha Salaudeen, another facilitator, who spoke on “Gender and child-sensitive reporting,” defined gender reporting simply as including all genders in our reporting.
According to her: “It is the practice of creating, reporting or producing media-related content (TV, radio, digital etc.) in a manner that is sensitive to gender inequality and portrays women and men fairly.”
She added that since the media plays a very significant role in shaping public perceptions about women and men, it is important that reporting avoids any form of gender stereotypes, which often limit and trivialise females and males, as well as presenting an inaccurate view of the world and its possibilities.
While sourcing stories, she urged journalists to ask an equal number of women and men for their opinions on subject matters, cover issues that are important to women and their lives, and seek the expertise of women in reports.
To properly mirror society and be factual and accurate in representing the world, she charged journalists to include children in their reports.
She, however, noted that children are young, vulnerable, and quite impressionable. As a result, journalists must respect them and treat them with dignity in reporting them.
Earlier, the coordinator of the Spotlight Initiative, UNICEF Lagos, Foluke Omoworare, who represented UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Denise Onoise, noted that the perpetrators of child molestation are often times people who are known to the children and are sometimes close family members.
Quoting statistics on the prevalence of GBV in Lagos, Omoworare revealed that one in four girls has experienced sexual violence and women and girls with disabilities fall into the category of those with higher likelihoods of being sexually molested.
“Violence is rarely an isolated incident and the majority of children surveyed experienced violence in their home. For children, perpetrators are people that are known to them, (parents, caregiver, teacher, neighbours),” she said.
Speaking on factors that fuel Violence against women and girls, Omoworare identified some to include “social norms, early child marriage, weak enforcement of the law, and the reluctance of response services to getting involved in family affairs.”
She, however, stated that to combat some of these factors, the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development works collaboratively and effectively with partners in a different capacity to ensure violence is reduced to the barest minimum in society.
Allying with Omoworare’s stand on factors that fuel the abuse of women and girls, Director, National Orientation Agency, Lagos, Waheed Ishola also identified reasons to include, “poverty, missing parental care, the quest for money, fame and political position by women and indecent dressing among adolescent girls.”
Others include: “Neglect of family values, the inability of men to manage their home, illicit drug/substance abuse, ritualistic purposes, and fear of stigmatisation.”
Ishola noted that the NOA as one of the implementing partners of the Spotlight Initiative is doing extensive work aimed at eliminating violence against women, working with people in local communities, through the Community Dialogue Sessions.
He urged the media to assist in addressing the negative socio-cultural norms attached to reporting cases of violence.
Earlier, Muhammad Okorie, Officer in Charge of UNICEF Lagos., noted that violence against women is a global issue, adding that, this trend is a threat to women achieving their full potential.
“Before 25 years, a girl must have been violated either sexually or physically. If we do not end violence against women, we can reduce it to the nearest minimum.
“The meeting is to ensure that we end VAWG. The media has a vantage position to reach a larger audience since they have more access through their report to speak to stakeholders,” Okorie stated.
Olasunmbo Daniel, an Assistant Director of Ministry of Youth and Social Development, said the ministry works collaboratively and effectively with partners in a different capacity to ensure violence is reduced to the barest minimum in society.
In implementing the Spotlight Initiative, Daniel said the progress report for Lagos State include; capacity building and strengthening of 156 Child Protection Stakeholders; Social Welfare Officers, Health Officers, Education Officers, Legal Officers, Police Officers, Civil Society Organisations, volunteers which have been carried out at different times, in the last two years.
Participants at the workshop, who were drawn from media organisations across Lagos State, expressed delight at the exposure which the training has accorded them, stating that they will, in turn, carry on the torch of eliminating violence against women, a trend which has hindered women from blossoming and attaining their full potential in all fields of endeavour.