Abused Woman Forgives Lover, The Voice


Date: January 1, 1970
  • SHARE:

A woman who was physically assaulted with a hammer by her partner, which was a highly publicised news story, forgives her partner and agrees to take him back.
A woman who was physically assaulted with a hammer by her partner, which was a highly publicised news story, forgives her partner and agrees to take him back.

This article may be used to:
  • Provide key learning pointers on the portrayal of women and men in media reports on gender violence.
Trainer’s notes
This is an example of how the media ‘sensationalises’ cases of gender violence to grab readers’ attention.  The piece, while raising some key issues related to gender violence, is written in a style which serves to entertain, rather than inform the reader. For example note the use of language and phrases such as: ‘hammer horror’; ‘taken the abusive man back into her arms’; ‘he came groveling to apologise’.
 
There are several stereotypes perpetuated in this article:
  • Woman as victim;
     

  • Man as brute;
     

  • Man as  repentant lover;
     

  • Women’s organisations as not effective;
     

  • Dependent woman syndrome.
     

There are mixed messages in the story about the gender violence survivour. On the one hand she is depicted as a woman who is desperate for love and is willing to forgive her partner for the violent assault on her, while she also is portrayed as a woman who has learnt lessons from the incidence and who may be stronger psychologically to avoid falling into the ‘Battered Woman Syndrome’. This syndrome is illustrated in the story by the serious assault which has ended with the abuser trying to win the affection’s again of the woman. These messages come through the voice and perspective of the woman herself.
 
The story is told through the voice and perspective of women – the survivour and a spokesperson for a human rights organisation. The woman is an active participant in telling her story. It would be of interest to compare her voice in this story with the news story about the assault on her.
The story once again depicts the police as not protecting the woman. They failed to charge her partner describing the assault, which could have led to her death, as only a ‘domestic dispute’. This attitude reinforces the unequal power relationship between the man and woman, and the woman is left without any recourse to the law if she is attacked again. The survivor describes the police as “useless”. The reporter sought comment unsuccessfully from the police. The woman’s testimony of her treatment by the police is a hidden angle within the story on how the attitude of the law enforcement agents and the lack of a strong Domestic Violence Act contribute to violence against women in Botswana. An unanswered question is whether domestic violence is recognised as a crime in the country?
 
Training exercises
Exercise one: Study the article and discuss the following questions:
  1. What message/stereotypes does this article convey about the perpetrator and the survivor?
     

  2. How is this reinforced by the use of language, the headline and the photograph?
     

  3. What does this story illustrate with regard to the angle from which stories about violence against women and girls are reported?
     

Exercise two: The case study is an example of a poorly-edited story, this story has several grammatical and punctuation errors, and sentences can be shortened. Re-edit the story.
 
 Summary session:
  1. Review pointers on the portrayal of women and men in reports on gender violence.
     

  2. Review pointers on how the local media covers gender violence which emerge from the exercise comparing local media articles to the Namibian case study.
     

  3. Give trainees a copy of the Handout, ‘Factors that Perpetuate Gender-Based Violence’ found in the Training Tools Section. Read through the factors together and identify those that are illustrated in the case study, ‘Abused Woman Forgives Abuser’.
 
 


Comment on Abused Woman Forgives Lover, The Voice

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *