|Understanding Violence Against Women - A Guide for Media (CMFR - UNFPA, 1998, 31 p.)|
If violence against women is said to thrive in a culture of violence, where the subjugation of women and domination by men are accepted as natural and inevitable, then the media must take responsibility for helping shape this culture, and for creating and reinforcing values and attitudes that uphold this culture.
There is a reciprocal relationship between media and society - a two-way process by which media content influences society and society influences the media. The process is circular and it is not always possible to separate cause from effect
At the same time, media practitioners are themselves shaped by this dominant culture, and bring their attitudes towards women, including their biases, to their work.
In an analysis of the links between media coverage and the proliferation of crimes of violence, Luis Teodoro writes: Part of what the world is, the stories also imply, is the human males possession of uncontrollable urges, which fact suggests that there is no individual accountability, only a collective one rooted in the glands and the accidents of gender. Being male would thus be an excuse similar to being drunk, except that maleness is a permanent condition, more or less. An image of the world thus emerges thats tailor-made for continuing violence against women, who are necessarily victims; by men, who are not necessarily in control of their passions.
The image ignores the fact that such violent crimes against women as rape are seldom about sex but are almost always about dominance and violence, which explains why the majority of such crimes are committed by men known to women.
Given both the subtext messages of the current practice of offending publications re crimes against women - that is, that the world is divided into victims, who are women, and into victimizers not completely responsible for their acts, who are men, as well as the desentisizing impact of reports as well as of photographs emphasizing the brutalization of the women objects of criminal assault - we can only draw the appropriate conclusions. The first is that the image of the world which emerges from the sum of bits and pieces fed to the reading and viewing public is false, because its particularities are inaccurate; and second, that the most favored treatment of crime stories degrades the human being and what is worse, desensitizes to the extent that it invites perceptions and even actions that prove while assuming, and assume while proving, that men and women are nothing but carrion.
Teodoro points out medias most grievous sins against women and children victims of violence: inaccuracy, if not falsity; degradation; sensationalism; and exploitation.
In 1993, driven by the spate of sensationalized and irresponsible reports following a series of rape-murders in Marikina, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) convened a multi-sectoral group of print and broadcast journalists (including some tabloid staffers) to draw up the Guidelines for the Coverage of Crimes of Violence against Women and Children. The Guidelines are reprinted here in full: