There has been an exponential growth in the media over the last fifty years. We have witnessed the advent of technology with the development of; telegraph, newspaper, magazines, television to internet. No doubt, the advance has been tremendous. Modern society depends hugely on information. Communication is important at work, health care, personal relationships traveling, and entertainment. Indeed most of our decisions, values, and beliefs are based on our assumptions, facts we know, our values, our studies and our experience. In our daily lives, we rely hugely on information we get from the media.
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Our trust on media as an indisputable authority to give us entertainment, news, and education is evident in all civilized nations of the modern world. People are at all times being exposed and bombarded constantly with thousand of sex, celebrities, advertising, violence and much more. Indeed, a modern child is exposed to more than 40,000 adverts each day. It is then imperative that we appreciate the role of the media to shape our values, beliefs, and decisions.
Every six hours, a woman is murdered in South Africa. Each day, two women are killed in Guatemala. In every 15 seconds in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a woman is assaulted. In U.S.A, within a span of six minutes, a woman is raped. In Europe, 50% of women go through sexual harassment, or physical contact where they work.6000 women are genitallly mutilated in North Africa every day. In China, more than 15,000 women will be sold to sexual slavery this year.
This grim statistics points to the fact that violence on women is rooted in the global culture of discrimination. This is a human rights issue. Legitimization of women bodies for individuals and political gratification is disturbing. Each year, community, and home violence devastates and shatters lives of millions of women throughout the world. In 2009, 8000 women were raped in Democratic Republic of Congo. This is a society where combatants have a prevalence rate of 60% H.I.V (Amnesty international, 2010).
This form of violence cannot be justified by any cultural, religious, and political claim. Violence is being allowed to happen daily by the prevailing global culture with impunity. Every time when women are terrorized, raped by soldiers as ‘spoils of war’, abused in custody, battered at home; what is manifested is unequal power between men and women. This reduces their choices and worsens their plight. Governments all over the world have legal, social, economic duties to protect and punish any form of abuse done on women. This is a responsibility they must sustain with due diligence to protect individual rights from abuses.
Violence against women manifests itself in a number of ways. When in custody, aggression on happens due to unevenness of control between inmates and guards is because of dependency on correctional officers and the ability of the guards to hold on privileges. In order to get food or personal hygiene products, women are coerced into supplying sex for ‘favors’. Though these crimes are prevalent, perpetrators are rarely held accountable (Division for the Advancement of Women, UN, 2006)
“Honor” Killings; In some countries, if suspected of extra marital relations, even in the case of rape, the cruelest form of indignity and violence is meted on women. Those who are raped are incapable of providing overt substantiation and are occasionally accused of Zina .This is especially so in Iran. The punishment is often stoning .Laws such as these only serve to aggravate and inhibit women from pursuing cases of those who raped them.Making an assumption that the woman is guilty, male respective families believe the only form of dealing with the infringement of ”honor” is to kill the woman.
The presence of pornographic videos and images in the media portrays women as cheap and objects of personal gratification. This is a widespread phenomenon, highly commercialized form of business, whose existence is solely because of media reliance. It should be noted that it is the electronic media that hosts most of these demeaning and distasteful images. The fact that the media will place the woman as an object brings about the expected setback of women rights being violated.
Domestic violence; this is a global pandemic. With no exception, a woman’s greatest risk is from someone she knows. Resentment at homes is a contravention of a woman’s physical right, veracity, and right to being. When basic steps are not taken to curb this abuse, crimes of this nature are allowed to prevail
Female Genital Mutilation; F.G.M is the removal of every or a fraction of women external genitalia. In Africa, it is being practiced in more than 28 countries. With dire consequences, an estimated 135 million women have undergone FGM .Though legislation against the practice exists in these countries where it is practiced, complete lack of enforcement and persecution of the perpetrators only ensures that the whole problem continues to thrive (Human Rights Watch, 2010).
In the case of sexual orientations, cultural norms and sometimes-legal measures support regulation of sexuality. Families, cultural networks, media, institutions, and religion regulate women’s sexuality. A good number of women alleged to be or are lesbians go from end to end through abuses meted by private sector, police, family, and state authorities. Multiple cases of beating, rape, forced impregnation, or marriage are reported to having been inflicted to such persons. In United States, lesbians consistently face well-founded fears of attack or persecution by police because of their identity. On regular basis, this form of violence occurs (Renzetti& Bergen, 2005).
Consequently, we can say that a Gender Based Asylum case scenario is brought to light. Here, fear of persecution or discrimination by women is considered for the purposes of refugee status. Forcible abortion, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, and honor killings are forms of persecutions that allow one to seek asylum. However, women seeking asylum in many countries rarely gain the refugee status based on claims of these forms of violence. Restrictive interpretation of the international definition of persecution of refugees is severe. In particular, lesbians fear disclosing their sexuality based on violence generated from such disclosure (Malamuth & Check, 2004).
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On the Problem of Impunity, most women fail to report abuses against them because most Government departments are accomplices of gender discrimination. Ostracization, lack of resources, and shame from communities causes most women to fail to seek legal redress to crimes committed against them. Challenging of abusers in a court of law is often long, tedious, humiliating where authorities and those present dwell on sympathy other than empathy (Crowell & Burgess, 1996).
The brutality meted on women is so widespread that it often fails to invite outrage and censure from members of the public. One in four women experience violence by an intimate partner. Yearly, thousands and thousands of women are recruited to prostitution. In addition, thousand of girls are forced to genital mutilation. In armed conflicts, forces and groups do sexual assaults as an act of war. Violent acts rarely results from one cause. Many things come play. The influence of the mass media is viewed as part of the many potential factors that influence the abuse on women. Constant broadcasting of media violence on women promotes aggressive behavior in young children contributing to increased aggressiveness and ultimately violent behavior many years later.
Abuse against girls and women takes various forms. Economic, sexual, psychological, and sexual form. All form these forms of abuse are related and affect women from the onset of their life to their death. This violence is not concentrated to a particular country, region, or to a particular group of people in the society. It is widespread and with it are repercussions the society cannot afford to allow. Indeed 70% of women experience abuse in their lifetime. This has debilitating effects on the society because it leads to women impoverishment, family disintegration, and erosion of progress in communities and Nations (Ferrell & Websdale, 1999).
Media is a double-edged sword. It has the power to influence the society in a positive way as well as influence it in the most destructive form. It will not be fair to note that although there has been a tremendous progress championed by the media in addressing violence against women, electronic as well as print media has played a complementary role in encouraging degradation of women (Cuklanz & Moorti, 2009). Largely, the media is as guilty as charged for promoting violence against women. Media violence leads to an increase in aggressions and real world violence. Film violence and fictional television contribution to both long term and short term rise in silence and aggression against women. Imitative rapes, filmed sexual acts, and pornography portrayals in movies tend to compound the problem of women abuse in the society.
Media violence and real world violence relationship tends to be moderated by the nature of the media content and social influences and the characteristics on the individuals exposed to that content. This overall size of effect is big enough to place it in the category of known threats to women rights. Exposure to violence on television and video games increases risk of violent behavior on the part of the viewers (Byerly & Ross, 2006).
Accumulation of body research is consistent and clear that television violence causes an increase in violent and aggressive behavior. It leads to acquisition of beliefs, attitudes, schemes, and scripts that increase the risk of aggressive and violent behavior in the observer of media violence. Media has always played a significant role to address issues of health, economy, and politics. If similar energy is focused on the issue of eliminating violence, it can play a vital role. Victimization of females in storylines reduces perceptions of violence.
Media monitoring, an African institution that advocates fair journalism reported that there is a shortage of women journalists in major media outlets in the continent. Where they exist, the people controlling stakes in these media institutions restrict their roles. These people are either the management or the owners. They are therefore denied a chance to highlight issues pertinent to their plight. According to Meyers (1997), it is of prime importance to be responsible always on how to present news in matters regarding violence on women. The media has the role of making these events however challenging or sad to be a moral lesson to all the viewers. There is an acknowledgement that the media is a strong influence in our age. However, responsible use can sway the influence in a positive direction. Studies show that even in female friendly nations, news reporting remains dominated by men. Almost half of journalists are women in these countries; however, three out of the four seniors in the media industry are men. This is a serious disparity. It denies women an avenue in which to address issues pertinent to them.
The media should be the watchdog of international organizations making effort to stem the spread of violence against women. Campaigns such as UNITE should be given needful coverage to raise awareness of the initiative noble goals. The media should follow up on the progress Nations of the world are making to meet the set target in 2015 when the issue of aggression on women should be eliminated. Nations should marry their own initiatives with the wider programs that are already in various countries to ensure that conducive legal environment is provided to deal with offenders and mitigate against further injuries being inflicted upon women.
Intergovernmental cooperation is also of prime importance to stop trafficking of women for sexual slavery. It is only through such concerted efforts that the war will be won. As United Nations Secretary General observes, ”there is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures, and communities: Abuse on women is never acceptable, never excusable, and never tolerable.” This is a noble dream that should be supported by all.
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