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A Gender Lense~ Inviting journalists to be gender sensitive in their reporting!

Seen here are World Pulse sisters Stella Paul, Urmila Chanam and Pushpa, journalists who vouch to report through a gender lense

' Media watches the government and what's happening in our society, but who is watching the media?,' questions a senior journalist and woman activist Ms Shakuntala in a conference held in Bangalore for journalists from the southern region of the country,both from print as well as electronic media. Shakuntala talks uninhibited about how media portrays the woman as a sex object and lowers her dignity.

The theme of the conference was media's role in highlighting gender related issues of health, discrimination, violence , economy and so on, with an agenda to help stop it! Journalists from all walks of life participated in this event and put forth their experiences, their suggestions and their commitment to participate in this movement. But also discussed alongside the main topic something remarkable came up as we went along the event- it was pointed out by someone how media has also played a negative role by its insensitive reporting of gender related issues or instances involving women. The damage that has been done by such improper reporting has been profound like seen in the recent instance of the Guwahati case of a minor girl molested by a mob in full view of a reporter's camera. Media has served to do more damage to the girl who was molested by the mob by over riding her privacy, raising question on her integrity by questioning what she was doing in a pub at 9 pm at night! Some even elaborated on her western clothes which shouldn't be worn by girls to protect their modesty. Such reports and such insensitive journalism has contributed to more discrimination and victimization than good. It's almost like the journalist is attributing the girl's choice of clothes and choice to be out at 9 pm at night to be the justified cause of what happened to her! The minor girl studying in class 11 and still in school has two things to deal with all her life- the trauma of molestation and public humiliation, and an equivalent trauma of living with publicity which has served to brand her for a lifetime!

Gita Aravamudan author of three books & the first woman journalist in an English daily, the Indian Express, in Karnataka says, "If women journalists were in the sight of the incident, they would have certainly walked off or tried to help the victim. Before being a journalist we are human beings!” Gita suggests the solution by adding, "More and more women journalists need to be in media- both print and electronic and more and more male journalists need to be sensitized on gender."

Journalists vouched to be a part of better way of reporting through a gender lense at the end of the conference.

When will you take your oath?
Urmila Chanam
Voice for Human Rights

This story was written for World Pulse’s Ending Violence Against Women Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring an end to gender-based violence. The EVAW Campaign elicits powerful content from women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as vocal grassroots leaders, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
Learn more »

Shakuntala, a columnist/journalist and woman activist
Participating journalists
Urmila Chanam speaking on gender discrimination at different stages of a woman's life in India
Gita Aravamudan speaking on the need of more woman journalists and more sensitized men journalists reporting gender issues and instances involving women
Mr Madan Gopal, IAS and Principal Secretary Health & Family Welfare Government of Karnataka on how media only covers an issue sensationalizing it to grab public attention and not for solutions


ddegarm's picture

It's always the fault of the woman....

or at least that seems to be the case across the globe. From the trafficking of small children, to blaming women for their own molestation, all countries need to improve the way in which media, politics and the law address the concerns of women and children. Blaming the victim just provides additional opportunities to attack women at all levels of society. Thank you for such a poignant story, Urmila. We need to be reminded that there is so much to be done globally to improve the status of women.

“Women have a special capacity to lead us to a more peaceful world with compassion, affection and kindness. And there is no more important time for that than this moment.” - Dalai Lama

Urmila Chanam's picture

Women's fault is taking fault

Dear Ddegarm,

I second you, everything that goes wrong, goes wrong because of what a woman did or did not do!!! This attitude infuriates me first and then it frustrates me.

Journalists have a huge part to play in bringing about a behavioural change in the way people think. What people read in time becomes what they believe in, beliefs become attitude and actions. That becomes our destiny.

Thanks for your thoughts. All my apologies for the delay in answer which is due to travelling extensively last few months. Do connect with me on facebook for more prompt interaction sister.

Love from India
Urmila Chanam

It takes just one to change many

Zaira.I's picture

Even in first world

Even in first world countries, where there is supposed to be gender equality, the first person blamed is always the woman. Whether it's the clothes she wears or the things she does. I agree completely with the fact that there need to be more women working in the media in order to show the truth about society instead of putting the blame on women.

Urmila Chanam's picture

Remember Adam and Eve?

Dear Zaira,

When a woman/girl brushes shoulders with her male counterpart, so much works against her, even if they are parallel in terms of competence and qualification. When things go wrong, for instance she gets into a traffic brawl people in her office are quick to blame her dressing or attitude for what happened to her.I sometimes think it is a smart way to wash off any responsibility to help her.

Women in media and media personnel are very critical in any campaign to better the situation. The media is the forum which reaches the mass. If the articles are sensitive to gender, it brings about an entire shift in the value system of the society.

Thanks for sharing your views. Hope to hear more from you sister.

In solidarity
Urmila Chanam

It takes just one to change many

Nicholas Demeter's picture

Shame on them

Unfortunately the media do not have to take a "hypocratic oath" or something similar to what doctors around the world pledge to abide by when it comes to their patients. The reporters role is to report the news, but they also have a responsibility to intervene when they can save a life or help the innocent. Western journalists such as Soledad Obrien and Anderson Cooper have risked their own lives to save those of the people they are reporting on and stand as positive examples for reporters around the world. I would like to see a "Name and Shame" website for bad journalists such as the one mentioned above, in addition to the many which highlight the bravery of those like Obrein and Cooper.

Dear Nicholas,

There is a guideline and a policy for everything, why not for the standards media needs to meet?? If media watches where the country is heading, why can't media be watched where they are heading too??

We need standards to be set in stone on the kind of reporting we want to see. Gender sensitivity should be made its core value. What is your opinion??

Thanks for taking time to discuss this.

Love and hugs
Urmila Chanam

It takes just one to change many

Pushpa Achanta's picture

Crucial piece

Thanks dear Urmila for highlighting issues that are always relevant. We must remember that we're humans/women first and journalists later!


Dear Pushpa,

I applaud your work and support to the third gender, the sexual minority community, sister and I am most encouraged by your stance and determination.

Love and hugs
Urmila Chanam

It takes just one to change many

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