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Joint press release from Gender@International Bonn

"Media freedom ends where women’s dignity is violated"

V. Herr, C. Brendel, J. A. Karim, R. El-Ibiary (v.l.n.r.)
© DW/M. Müller

Media coverage shapes minds and influences opinions. How are women represented in the media? Experts and participants at the Global Media Forum 2016 addressed the role of media in this context and called upon them to increase their efforts to become a crucial stakeholder in ending violence against women.

The Deutsche Welle moderator Jaafar Abdul-Karim opened the discussion hosted by Gender@International Bonn with a sober picture of the situation: "Violence against women and girls is a global problem of epic proportions - at least one out of three women worldwide experiences violence during her lifetime."

Christine Brendel, Regional Manager of the program 'Fighting Violence against Women in Latin America (GIZ),' referred to two interconnected human rights in the context of violence against women and girls: "Freedom of the media ends when it violates the right to a life in dignity and freedom from violence." She also highlighted that in Bolivia a code of ethics has been developed by journalists and other stakeholders to encourage the media to self-regulate its reporting in efforts to get a "free press that shows women free of violence." 

For StopBildSexism founder and campainger Kristina Lunz, who participated via video-streaming in the panel, and writer Vincent-Immanuel Herr, it is clear that the presentation of women in German media is often connected with sexism and violates the dignity of women, who are often presented as objects. When it comes to sexual violence, women themselves are often held responsible for getting 'raped': "It's not rocket science that the persistent objectification of women and girls in our media creates a climate in which there is widespread and ubiquitous violence against them. Science has long proven that the objectification of females in the media leads to dehumanizing them, which in turn lowers the barriers of perpetrating violence against them," argued Lunz.

As the only man in the panel, Herr stressed: "As men we need to understand the details of structural causes for gender inequality from the female perspective, that's why I joined #HeForShe, in order to have a greater understanding of the problem and be in a better position to join women in realizing their demands for equality and a life free from violence."

Violence against women is a serious problem in every country of the world. Rasha El-Ibiary, Assistant Professor for Political Mass Media at the Future University in Egypt, presented statistics which show that in Egypt 99.3% of all women experience sexual harassment. El-Ibiary, coordinator of DW Akademie's "Women's Voices" project, emphasized that "Media plays an important role in being an objective reporter that needs to address sexual harassments not as a series of individual incidents but as a part of the socio-political and cultural context." 

After an intense discussion participants and the panelists agreed that media not only plays an important role in shaping the minds of people but also has to be more responsive to the rights of women to dignity and a life which is free from violence. It must do more to raise awareness about discriminating structures and stereotypes. In order to achieve a Planet 50:50 by 2030, media should immediately begin to present violence against women and girls as what it is - a human rights violation. 

The workshop was organized on behalf of Gender@international Bonn by Deutsche Gesellschaft für international Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Deutsche Welle, State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia and UN Women National Committee Germany e.V. 

Pictures of the workshop are available on Flickr here: http://bit.ly/1UWCqgI 

The workshop was recorded and is online available via Sound Cloud here:

 

Please also have a look at the 'best practice' example from Bolivia in this short video clip:

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