Responsible media reporting of human rights issues and domestic violence

Date: May 27, 2021
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On 3rd May 2021, the European Union delegation in Mauritius organized a virtual forum on the theme of  ‘Responsible media reporting of human rights issues and domestic violence’ on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day 2021. Mr. Degert, Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Mauritius moderated the forum and the panelists included : Mrs. Anushka Virahsawmy, Director of Gender Links Mauritius and Goodwill Ambassador of the Rise and Shine Campaign, Professor Armoogum Parsuramen, President of the Global Rainbow Foundation(GRF) and Goodwill Ambassador of the Rise and Shine Campaign, Mrs. Martine Lutchmun, Journalist at Essentielle and Business Magazine and Mrs. Christina Chan-Meetoo, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Mauritius. 


Mr Degert emphasized that this virtual forum’s focus is on the responsibility of the media in relation to human rights and Gender-Based Violence(GBV). HE then elaborated on the three main objectives of the virtual forum:

  1. To showcase the sensitivity of the above issues pertaining to human rights and domestic violence
  2. To render the media more conscientious about ethical and responsible reporting 
  3. To propose reforms or ways to improve media coverage.


  1. Media and Gender-Based Violence(GBV)

Mrs. Virahsawmy commented that despite existing strategies to combat domestic violence such as the hotline and the mobile application ‘Lespwar’ , support and response have been the focal points of intervention rather than preventive strategies. She made a number of pertinent recommendations :

  • Media outlets could focus on ensuring that emergency numbers, hotlines, contacts about the police, shelters and temporary accommodations are communicated to people who require them.
  • Besides featuring such stories on the front page to promote greater awareness, media sources should bolster the reporting of positive stories outlining the resilience and independence of survivors of domestic abuse.
  • Myths and stereotypes should actively be countered and journalists can invite experts on Gender-Based Violence( GBV) to enrich the knowledge of readers and viewers.
  • News articles that have been published without prior verification of the facts need to be avoided.
  • Responsible media reporting rests upon a collaborative approach between the government, media houses and experts accompanied by advocacy and sensitization campaigns and providing support to media personnel.  
  1. Media and Disability

Mr. Parsuramen affirmed that disabled people are doubly vulnerable in the society as media representations of disabled people view them only in terms of their disability and do not emphasize the discrimination that they face in everyday lives. Therefore, he stated that responsible media reporting must involve educating people about their human rights.

  1. The role of the media

Mrs. Lutchmun vouched for a more engaged media which brings to light important issues happening in our society. She highlighted that media outlets should ensure the reliability of their sources of information as well as ensuring the training of their personnel. In line with the requisite training of the media, Gender Links’ experience with media houses is particularly relevant via the Centres of Excellence(COE) approach which focuses on developing and implementing gender policies and action plans through a six-stage process.

  1. Media and Women

Mrs. Chan-Meetoo’s research on the structural analysis of media hierarchies(2015) attested to the feminization of the media profession with more than 60% of female journalists. Paradoxically though, only 25% of those at the top (news executives) are women. She therefore argued that the glass ceiling and sticky floor effect is very well present. She further found out that only 38% of top-signed articles and 41% of hard news were written by women. Moreover, 70% of the sources quoted in articles were male and 76% of expert voices were equally male. Similarly, Gender Links’ involvement in gender and media monitoring studies also reveal the lack of gender equality in the media. The latest Gender and Media Progress Study 2020 concluded that women make up 21% of the voices heard, read about or seen in print, television and radio news, going up by merely one percentage point from 20% in 2015. 

The Way Forward

A number of concrete recommendations were put forward during the webinar:

  • A directory of women experts and a Gender Code of Ethics should be set up. 
  • Self-evaluation checklists and internal audits for gender mainstreaming should be encouraged.
  • Women experts should also be provided with more visibility to speak up.
  • Collaborative action at the Media Trust level would also help promote more inclusivity and dynamism in media representations.
  • Education and raising awareness at all levels remains crucial given the intersectional nature of the fight for equality.

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