Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum 2016 (Bonn)

How can media help prevent violence against women?

Text and photo by Rana Khaled

In most Arab societies where women are being blamed for sexual and domestic violence they experience, the media can both help to disseminate gender equality norms or completely obliterate them.

Jaafar Abdul Karim, TV host of the popular political talk show ShababTalk, discussed how media can play a crucial role in promoting women’s rights. In his opinion, TV series and filmmakers must be blamed for disseminating the unequal image.

“If you look at the TV drama during Ramadan, you will find a lot of trailers and stories showing how women are being beaten and how they are portrayed as a victim or a weak persons. Some of them even justify the violence against women and make them appear sorry and guilty if they do something the man doesn’t like,” he said.

He explained that some TV dramas, music videos and movies use good-looking women to get more viewers.

“Instead of underestimating women, producers and directors must say no – stop domestic violence and sexual violence and stop letting women feeling humiliated. If you keep promoting this kind of image, it will keep harming our society. In the end, women are half of the society,” he added.

Gender equality at work

Although it’s not easy for any Arabic girl to enter the media field, Abdul Karim believes that changing the general attitude towards women may lead towards a more open society where women can show their talents and capabilities.

“Accepting and supporting women’s rights is part of our responsibility. Women can travel, cover protests, hold cameras and do their job just like the men. Having female bosses in the media organizations will help change this perspective I’ve been travelling to many different countries in the Arab world and talked to women everywhere and I know they have great potentials but they are still waiting for a chance and space,” he explained.

To overcome this discrimination, women colleagues must step up for their rights and say no if they are treated differently.

In some cases, adding a social worker to media institutions can also help.

“Men dominate media fields everywhere and this affects the type of messages they convey. That’s why we should open the door for education and discussion. If you are a part of masculine society, you have to understand that giving the women more rights doesn’t mean that you will have less,” he concluded.

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