In this report, Odimegwu Onwumere writes that there is a new form of violence against women through the media and calls on the general public to respect the right to dignity of the human person
Violence against women is gradually assuming a new form through the media. As the watchdog of the society, the media which have been playing a role in sensitizing the wide-ranging masses on the need to stop the violence against women, are at the same time meting out enormous treaties of violence against women through publishing pictures of the raped or battered women and other contraventions of privacy of women, knowing how sensational they are.
On September 28 2006 an Amy Jussel, a public affairs commentator published an article with the title – Media has a role to play in curbing violence against girls. In that treatise, the irked Jussel admonished as a matter of urgency that the media have to stop “glamorizing, romanticizing and sexualizing content under the auspices of violence prevention!”
Researcher A. N Nwammuo, writing on – Social Media and Perpetuation of Violence against Women in Nigeria: The Case of Facing Death on Facebook – said that clowns and criminals have invaded the internet and the World Wide Web negatively, causing problematic pains to the women world.
“Social media forms, due to their high interactivity, are used to perpetuate violence against women… The case of Cynthia Osukogu provides basis for this assertion,” said A. N Nwammuo.
Jussel went further, “We need to recognize that mass media is critical in communicating a responsible voice to curb violence against girls and women. As it is, hyper-sexualized environs have created a minefield that even young K-5 elementary girls are faced with dodging daily.”
One Kamala Sarup, writing on the topic – Violence Against Women And Role Of Media (Thursday, 13 January 2005) – commended some journalists, but added, “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.”
Lack Of Privacy, Security and Safety
Over the years, violence against women has taken novel forms. There have been videos of abused ladies posted online or through other means of technology. Many women have been killed through contacts they made online while using the internet or phones.
On 19 November 2010, Inter Press Service (IPS), South Africa, reported, “As more and more women go online using computers and mobile phones, many are silenced through acts of violence, sexism and censorship.
“In most cases women do not know what to do to protect themselves against such violations. Nor are there adequate measures adopted by telecommunications companies, internet service providers and software developers to protect users’ privacy, security and safety.”
Nwammuo intoned, “Violence against women through facebook manifests in many forms ranging from the use of words, photographs and physical injury resulting to the death of many women… Such violence has led to emotional, psychological and physical torture of Nigerian women.”
The IPS source said that in their bid to look into gender based violence, ICTs and the role of media, Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Women and Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa hosted a media discussion on November 17 2010, tagged – Click Against Violence: Taking 16 Days of Activism Online.
“Both ICT and VAW affect our capacity to completely enjoy our human rights and fundamental freedoms. Women and girls are increasingly experiencing violence when using the internet and mobile phones,” said Jan Moolman from APC Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) who spoke about ‘Protecting Women’s Rights Online’.
Further, Jan Moolman, said, “Acts of violence against women in the real world are replicated online, including cyber stalking, cyber bullying, surveillance and other acts that violate women’s safety and privacy. ICTs are changing the ways in which women experience and respond to violence.”
According to the source, “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 seem to be less concerned about women’s issues and rights.”
Defining Violence Against Women
But defining violence against women, the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, said, “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.”
Mrs. Josephine Effa Chukwuma, the Executive Director of Project Alert on Violence Against Women, a Lagos-based organisation which is about 12 years old, said early this year that violence against women is a human rights abuse.
Mrs. Effa wasn’t just mouthing, she proved that she knew what she was talking about, being a specialist of English and Literary Studies, with a Master’s degree in Development Studies obtained from The Netherlands in 1992, and concentrating on women and development and then International Law and Social Justice.
On November 29 2016, the Educating Nigerian Girls in New Enterprise, ENGINE, a non-governmental organisation, NGO, hyped its initiative dubbed “Walk of a 1000 Men”, as part of measures to sensitize the society against some incongruous attitudes that women are treated with in the world and called for a stop to any forms of violence against women.
The Chairperson of ENGINE, Mrs. Amina Salihu was worried, saying that the scheme was bent on addressing the causative factors of gender based aggression that often result to corporal, sexual, psychosomatic, unwritten harm or torment to women and girls. Mrs. Effa said that when a woman is being beaten by her husband or kicked around, that is torture!
“And, Chapter 4, of the Constitution governing the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which focuses on fundamental human rights says, “Every Nigerian, man, woman or child, has a right to dignity of the human person, freedom from torture, etc.,” she said.
In another vein, Lakshmi Puri, an international figure at the ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly, 19 June 2013, said, “When one in three girls in developing countries is likely to be married as a child bride; when some 140 million girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation; when millions of women and girls are trafficked in modern-day slavery; and when women’s bodies are a battleground and rape is used as a tactic of war – it is time for action.”
Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. E-mail: [email protected]