GIS - 06 October, 2014: It is dramatic that gender-based violence is so pervasive and frequent in society: one out of three women has, at one time or another, been a victim of violence; it is also appalling that such acts will be committed by someone she knows, including a member of her own family, an employer or a co-worker, according to the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Mireille Martin.
The Minister was briefing students of Communication Studies as well as aspiring media practitioners from the University of Technology Mauritius (UTM) on gender-based violence this morning at the launching of a Capacity Building Programme on Responsible Reporting on Gender-Based Violence.
Speaking on general statistics which indicate that during her lifetime, at least one in every three women will have been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise ill-treated, Mrs Martin stated that men also are not immune to this type of violence. She added that violence in all its forms, be it sexual, psychological, physical or verbal is highly condemnable.
According to the Minister, violence against women permeates all social strata irrespective of age, sex, income group, culture and religion. To effectively address violence, she said, her Ministry endeavours to enlarge the platforms of stakeholders, enlisting the engagement of health professionals, law personnel, religious leaders, human resources cadres, public officers and the civil society at large. “If we want to tackle gender-based violence, everyone must play his/her part”, she stressed.
Mrs Martin also recalled that in the National Action Plan to Combat Domestic Violence, the support of the media has been identified as one strategic step to enlarge the scope of action to address this problem. She recalled the role of journalists and media practitioners in ensuring that social justice and human rights are respected as well as their responsibilities in portraying and reporting gender-based violence.
The Minister finally called on participants to pay particular attention the way that gender-based violence is perceived, viewed and addressed. She urged them to take into consideration several elements. These are namely the impact that language, choice of vocabulary and gender focus have in the different reports of cases involving acts of violence; the perpetuation of negative and stereotyped images of women in the media that contributes to trivialisation of gender-based violence; reverse criminalisation where the victim ends up being blamed and the perpetrator exonerated from his acts; and the consequences on the victims and their family.
The launching of the Capacity Building Programme on Responsible Reporting on Gender-Based Violence at the UTM falls under the Pillar 4 of the Costed National Action Plan to end Gender-Based Violence. It aims at helping students who are following courses in Communication and Media Studies and Journalism better understand gender-based violence so that the coverage of related incidences are effected with discernment, in a responsible and sensitive manner. The Capacity Programme was conducted at the University of Mauritius in April 2014.
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