WIMA expresses concerns about the coverage of Motorway rape case; requests media and journalists to make ethical considerations
Islamabad, 14 September 2020: Women in Media Alliance (WIMA) expressess concerns at the way the media, in particulate the Urdu press has covered the horrific rape case on motorway. We urge the media and journalists to be mindful of ethics and the potential impact of the media content on these stories on victims, their families and the public at large. We urge the media to take urgent steps to ensure implementation of ethical best practices, creating a sensitive code of conduct, conducting sensitization and professional trainings for reporting Gender Based Violence (GBV) and enhancing the coverage of gender based violence by treating it as an ongoing crisis.
During the media coverage of the gang rape case on the Motorway, the privacy of the victim and her family was repeatedly violated – the FIR was aired on multiple channels without blurring the identifying details and later the FIR was also tweeted by multiple journalists. WIMA asks all editorial staff to help their teams understand the importance of thinking about the potential harm that these oversights can create. We demand that the editors treat coverage of gender based crimes with more care and sensitivity.
WIMA is also concerned about the continued victim blaming by various journalists and channels. We are also concerned that the media continued to make space for victim blamers and rather than taking an editorial stance against it, shifting the responsibility on activists who were pitched against victim blamers on air.
WIMA also condemns the dehumanisation of the victim by the usage of dramatic titles, music and graphics. These elements add a layer of fiction to the story, adding sentiment but also presenting the victim as a character rather than a real person. WIMA urges the media to look internally and develop a code of conduct for coverage of cases of gender based violence be it rape, honour killing, domestic violence or a plethora of other ways in which women are often violently assaulted.
We also urge the media to cover these incidents in context, helping the public understand that these incidents are not isolated and are the result of systematic descrimination and subjugation of women.
WIMA urges the media to play a positive role in tackling gender based violence in the society and cover this issue as an ongoing crisis rather than something that disappears from the media narrative a few days after harrowing incidents of violence.