How can the media and communication technologies be used to mobilize support and build public awareness on gender-based violence?
After discussions [on female genital mutilation] involving all strata of the population (including religious leaders, young men and women, officials, health workers), the consensus was that even if FGM was to be eradicated, it should happen among internal discussion of concerned persons, not by raising a great fuss around it. Consultation meetings were again held and local journalists were invited; this is a very sensitive issue and journalists need guidance.
Five years after the first activities, the issue of FGM is no longer taboo and journalists feel much more able to address this issue without causing social upheaval.
On the completion of the statistical study of FGM, it came to my mind that if all the regions of the country were sufficiently provided with communication infrastructure (such as roads, television and so on), ending FGM would be much easier, as this would enhance the exchange of ideas and other information. Now that cheap communication tools are available in our regions, this idea does not seem far from reach. Giving local groups working for the eradication of FGM these appropriate tools to enhance communication for collective action would greatly improve their range of action.
Marie-Helene Mottin-Sylla, ENDA-Environment and Development in the Third World, Dakar, Senegal firstname.lastname@example.org
On December 6, 1996, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation asked us for the names of the women who had been killed in Quebec during that year. Then they read all 42 names on the national 6 o'clock radio news. It took over two minutes. People phoned in for a week to comment on the broadcast.
We have been considering a project of listing the names of the assassins of women and children. Objections include the near-certainty of prosecution or lawsuits (at the very least) as many of these men have either not been convicted or have plea-bargained for lesser charges than murder one. But the biggest objection has been that these men's names have no value. Theirs aren't lives lost, their names aren't silent pleas for awareness and action. As activists, we go after the system that drives and protects their violence, not them individually. But are we covering up by not pointing a finger more explicitly?
Martin Dufresne, Montreal Men Against Sexism
In response to Martin Dufresne's correspondence: One possible concern confronting this type of list is the stigma and shame attached to violence against women. In the context of rape in the United States, the vast majority of victim's names are not released out of "respect" for the victim's privacy. Many opponents of this practice cite the secrecy as a cause for continued stigma. However, considering the amount of "blaming the victim" that occurs in the context of violence against women, this may be an unfair assessment.
Perhaps a compilation list of men who've been convicted of battery, assault and rape would best serve to both heighten awareness of the issue and perhaps further stigmatize the perpetrators of this behavior rather than the victims.
I work for the Soul City Multi-Media Health Promotion Project, a South African NGO using media to impact on health and development. Each year we produce a series of prime-time television and radio dramas that reach millions of South Africans. Into the dramas we weave issues to inform the public and stimulate debate. We back up the electronic media with booklets that are serialized in newspapers nationally in synergy with the dramas. We then adapt the mass media material into youth life-skills material and are currently in every secondary school in South Africa.
One of the key issues we will be addressing in a forthcoming series is the new Domestic Violence Bill. There are a number of very exciting innovations contained in the bill, including a far broader definition of domestic violence to include financial, emotional and other forms of violence.
Soul City hopes to reach millions of South Africans to inform them of their rights with regard to the new legislation and to shift social norms around violence against women.
Dr. Shereen Usdin, Soul City Multi-Media Health Promotion
Project, Johannesburg, South Africa
We use TV, radio and newspapers to send out the message to women that there is an alternative to a life of violence. We prepared a documentary with interviews of young women from Albania and Russia who were forced into prostitution in Italy. This documentary was aired on Italian TV to explain to Italians what is happening in their own country. Young women in Albania who watch Italian broadcasts were able to understand what happens here to women who are promised an easy job in Italy.
Francesca Pesce, Associazione Differenza Donna, Italy