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WRAHP trains journalists on gender based violence reportage


…task them to up their game

Some participants at the workshop

From research, mind-boggling statistics have shown that one in three women worldwide has experienced either physical and/ or sexual violence. It is estimated that almost half of all homicides in which women were the victims in 2012 were committed by intimate partners or family members.

Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children (below 18 years of age) and of those, more than one in three were married before 15 years of age. More than 133 million girls and women have experience some form of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the 29 countries in Africa.

Sadly, civil society organizations have discovered that reporters of these crimes have been found wanting in the area of reporting of these issues ineptly and inadvertently causing their efforts to have little or no change in the society especially among the perpetuators of these crimes.

These and more formed the focus and bases for discussion when Women’s Rights and Health Project, WRAHP, an innovative nongovernmental organization that works for the promotion of reproductive health, rights and general development for women, young girls and communities had a two-day training for media practitioners in Lagos recently.

Addressing the participants, Bose Ironsi, executive director, WRAHP decried that media have become trumpet blowers alone without the necessary follow up to make a change in the society. “We are looking at your role, the consideration to give when you are making report. Sometimes media blow trumpet about violence and there is no follow up. Apart from few papers that have dedicated page to talk about issues of violence others are not.

“As an individual, what are you doing? How are you reporting the issues about violence? Are you making sure that people see it from a different perspective? If you are a blogger, are you doing this just to make money or to make sure that people seeing things from a different perspective?” she asked rhetorically.

She said that gender-based violence cuts cross cutting issue affecting the lives of victims from a diversity of dimensions including health, economy, culture, psychology, education, livelihoods and political participants. Therefore, the objective of the workshop is to provide information on gender-based issues in general and gender-based violence in particular; provide guidance on gender sensitization with specific reference to gender-based violence and stimulate the development of initiatives geared towards eradicating gender-based violence.

She spoke passionately on the language use by media in reporting gender-based violence identifying that the way gender-based issues are reported are not enough because “there is plenty of GBV but nobody is telling us what they should. How do we mitigate this issue of violence, beyond reporting it how do we take it further? We are looking at people who can still bring about change, people who are young who have the energy to think beyond the box, it might not be now it might be in future. It’s a gradual thing but with consistency that’s why this kind of training is important,” she maintained.

Among the issues treated in the two-day workshop include rights, human rights, sexual and reproductive health rights, what gender is, gender-based violence, system of law, the overview of Lagos State 2007, the role of youths, guidelines for responding to violence against and Family Support Unit on the Nigerian police that handles issues on family, women and children.

Chibogu Obinwa, a Gender Development Consultant who facilitated the human rights and gender dissected the issues around rights, human rights, gender and sex thereby disabusing the journalists’ minds on the misconception about gender and sex. She said that “sex is a fact of human biological meaning that as human beings we were born to be ’male ’ or ’female ’ whereas gender relates to the socially constructed roles based on what we perceive to be rightly meant for either a ’male ’ or ’female .’ She however, opened the participants’ eyes on some misconception about sex and gender.

Beyond mere reporting, journalists have been charged to assist the victims by letting them know through their programmes on radio and television as well as their write ups where they should go to get help when they are involved in domestic violence as well as the civil society organizations that address cases of violence against women. There are specific units in police such as Family Support Unit/ Juvenile Welfare Centres, JWC, that attends to issues of violence against women including sexual and physical abuse of women and children.

From the legal perspective, Mrs. Grace Ketefe, a legal practitioner explained the systems of Laws under the Nigerian context as it has to do with domestic violence. She said that the victims should seek justice legally, reiterating that Lagos state has since 2007 passed a law that provide protection against domestic violence but a lot of people are still ignorant of this.

However, police perspective was not left out. Erroneously, police’s role have been misinterpreted by many as far as the issue of reporting domestic violence is concerned and Inspector Kenneth Okafor, an DFID certified trainer from Police Family Support Unit,  illuminated the role of police in handling sexual and gender-based violence and domestic violence, saying that police have upgraded their approach of reporting these issues from Juvenile Welfare Centres to Family Support Units after their training.  Inspector Okafor said that there are seven stations in Lagos in addition to three centers where their JWC centers have been upgraded to internationally accepted Family Support Unit in Lagos.

“There are seven police stations in Lagos that their JWC section have been upgraded in Lagos police command and they are Ketu, Ikorodu, Badagry, Ajah, Surulere, Ikotun, and Festac in addition to Adeniji Adeleke, Isokoko and Ilupeju which were the three police stations that we started with as a pilot state to test run the training,” Inspector Okafor said.

Speaking from media point view, TVC director of programmes, Morayo Afolabi-Brown, one of the facilitators while speaking said reporters must be equipped with the right knowledge; the right exposures because you can’t give what you don’t have. “So the information we have gotten from various speakers, how do we make use of it? Now that we have heard all these information, how do we best interpret this information to the public so that they are equipped and knowledgeable to take the right decision? It’s not by telling someone not to beat his wife or send his daughter to school. The man might choose to do otherwise, as a media person, how do we make the man understand the implication of what he is doing wrong?

“That’s why I keep emphasizing on behavioural characters of human beings. We should understand that every human being learns differently. We can appeal to people’s emotions through programmes that will change their orientation towards girl child education and the benefits thereof. We can change their orientation by writing stories to expose what they are doing wrong,” Afolabi-Brown said.

In the same vein, Dr. Princess Olufemi Kayode, founder of Mediacom who also spoke on combating gender based violence using media stressed on loophole of reporting issues around domestic violence. She said that media should go beyond mere reporting. “You should always understand the cause of the violence and the issues around it. Media people should work on their believe system and the language. They need to know the current terminologies of gender based violence. Be good enough to follow up any report,” she advised.



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