The Uganda Media Women’s Association UMWA has warned journalists of the possible negative implications of neglecting Gender Based Violence (GBV) stories since it will affect the whole country.
According to Dr. Emily Comfort Maractho, the Vice Chairperson UMWA, journalist have showed less interest when it comes to reporting gender sensitive issues especially on matters that affect the women
During a journalist training session at the UMWA offices on Wednesday, Dr. Maractho noted that, while the GBV issues have been on the rise especially during these pandemic times, most journalists have shy away from telling such stories and that the few who have they have always done it unprofessionally thereby having more less an impact
“We wouldn’t be where we are now if journalists did their work well,” she said
According to a Survey undertaken by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) in 2020, 86% of the survivors of GBV were women and girls. GBV has undermined girls and women’s physical, sexual, and mental health.
Dr. Maractho also noted that in a study that was conducted by UMWA about a year ago, statistics indicated how there was a huge misrepresentation of gender especially about women and when it came to issues concerning bad publicity
Dr. Maractho said while women stories were still short in media, the few that manage to penetrate were mostly negative and always portrayed women as a weaker gender
“Many journalists still believe GBV is a mild issue, in fact majority believe its way of life not until it happens to one of them,” she said
Adding that, no one should go through what she went through just because she was a girl
However, according to Dr. Maractho, the issue of bad publicity could easily be dealt with if only journalists started digging for their own facts and not always relying on what their sources feed them
“Journalists are always feed with information especially from institutions like the police and some spokes persons, these will tell you what they want you to know and not what you need to hear,” she said
In addition Dr. Maractho noted that most journalists have basic knowledge about GBV and should therefore avail themselves with adequate skills such as; the interviewing skills, investigative skills, photo journalistic skills among others to help them call for action when it comes to gender sensitive reporting
Dr. also noted that gender sensitive reporting should be added to the academic curriculum in all institutions of higher learning in addition to psychology which requires every journalist to undertake since they’re also human and therefore bound to make mistakes at any time.
She however noticed that misconception that gender issues belonged to the women and that GBV started at a wrong footing with invisible forces of men and women fighting each other, one to retain their power and the other to take over the power respectively
She therefore stressed that, UMWA sought to highlight women issues since it was the “unhealthy hand” and not that GBV was only restricted to women. She therefore called upon journalists to take on GBV as human rights defenders and a light issue and that it will get better any time soon.
“Journalists can always advocate, highlight policies and promote positive contributions of women,” she said.
The training was aimed at discovering the knowledge gap within the media personalities to help come up with a media training guide to enable journalists do effective gender sensitive reporting in other districts of Kasese, Kampala, Gulu and Kitgum