Debating the media’s role in gender equality

Date: December 6, 2010
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The battle for gender equality and against gender-based violence is far from over.

This reality was made crystal clear last month following the release of statistics which show that three quarters of South African men admit to perpetrating violence.

In South Africa’s Gauteng province 51.2% of women have experienced emotional, economic, physical or sexual violence within intimate relationships. In comparison, 78.3% of men in the province admit to perpetrating some form of violence against their partners.

These statistics are part of the Gauteng Gender Violence Indicators Pilot Project conducted by Gender Links and the Medical Research Council (MRC). The pilot project aims to develop a comprehensive set of indicators to measure gender-based violence (GBV) that can complement police statistics.

Rachel Jewkes MRC Gender Unit Director shared these findings at a debate entitled “Media: Part of the problem or solution in addressing gender based violence?” The event was held on 24 November, the eve of the 16 Days campaign, by Gender Links and the Critical Thinking Forum.

Gender Links Executive Director Colleen Lowe Morna argued that the media is almost schizophrenic in its coverage of GBV. During the 16 Days, there is high coverage of GBV that tends to be analytical and gender sensitive. Yet according to the Gender and Media Baseline Study (GMBS) and Gender and Media Progress Study (GMPS), there is regularly sensationalism and violations of basic journalistic principles in the remaining 349 days of the year.

Despite these challenges, Mbuyiselo Botha from Sonke Gender Justice applauded the media for raising awareness on GBV.

Thabo Leshilo, Editor in Chief of the Sowetan, asked whether media content would necessarily change if a woman was the Editor in Chief or media owner. His answer was no.

A robust debate between the panellists and the audience ensued.

Click here ( to read more about the GBV indicators findings.

Commentaries on the topic:

If Journalists did their job
When violence becomes normal
Sex or rape? Something is terribly wrong!


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