Media has role in ensuring GBV is addressed

As at the end of 2020 about 5,009 gender-based violence cases were reported.

In Summary

•The best placed agent is the media.

•Due to its reach and believability, it can handle issues relating to exposing those perpetrating the vice.

As at the end of 2020 about 5,009 gender-based violence cases were reported.
As at the end of 2020 about 5,009 gender-based violence cases were reported.
Image: STAR ILLUSTRATED

It is encouraging that outside framing and language challenges sometimes, media in Kenya has expanded interest and coverage of human rights violations including Gender Based Violence (GBV).

GBV is a criminal activity that must be treated as such, and media focusing the issue will enable the necessary attention to this vice that is threatening families.

Rarely a day passes without media highlighting GBV across the country, and this even as would like media to be sensitive in framing the issue- away from blame the victim approach, presenting it a woman only problem and avoiding showing gory photos of battered people.

Its happening within our midst with serious implications on the protection of human rights, and media focus on will allow it to have the attention it deserves.

The best placed agent is the media which, due to its reach and believability can handle issues relating to exposing those perpetrating the vice and are thus a threat to human rights, educate the society to make it their responsibility to report such matters like GBV to the authorities and ensure such people pay the price of their criminal activities.

The Government just released the latest statistics on GBV in Kenya, noting an alarming rate in the increasing numbers- According to the Ministry of Public Service and Gender just released report, GBV cases are on an upward trajectory especially in the period COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, which period has seen reduced revenues for most Kenyans, increased home stay hours because of closed social and religious activities and children out of learning institutions.

According to the ministry statistics, as at the end of 2020 about 5,009 gender-based violence cases were reported compared to 1,411 cases during the same period in 2019.

The reports further indicate that Nairobi, Kakamega, Kisumu and Kiambu counties have the highest prevalence.

Between January and March 2021, about 877 cases had already been recorded with a high prevalence in Nairobi, Kakamega, Kisumu, Nakuru, and Kiambu Counties.

The former Prime Minister has thrown his weight into the matter cautioning couples, ‘if you cannot reconcile, then, leave and let live’. The 2019, 2021 and 2021 GBV numbers calls for synergized efforts to fight this criminal enterprise and social menace.

As in the monitoring, documenting, and exposing cases of GBV, the role of the media cannot therefore be overemphasized noting that media plays a vital role in increasing awareness about GBV and the serious criminal sanctions that await those doing it, and that GBV is not an entirely social or love issue as some societies present it.  

The code of ethics for the practice of journalism advice that media does not glorify violence- thus incidences of GBV should be framed alongside love or poverty reasoning or presentation as if one deserves such on gender lines.

A collaborative approach that combines sensitive reporting together with advocacy, sensitization and support for media is essential in curbing this humanitarian crisis.

The media stakeholders need an urgent candid discussion on GBV with more focus on messaging for social behavior change. We note that the media finds itself in all possible approaches to dealing with the vice. This includes but not limited to gender responsive approach, integrative and collaborative approach, and preventive approach.

“Journalists have this important duty to promote human rights, speak truth to power and use their skills to hold public officials accountable. Obviously, following up and exposing those perpetrating GBV, push and pull factors and laxity on the part of duty bearers to act is a public duty that media must take up” Samuel Muraya, at the Journalists for Human Rights Kenyan program, “Voices for Women and Girls Rights” notes.

“It will be very irresponsible for any media, through their various programs and content, to suggest or misdirect couples in a violent relationship to stick together if things are not working. Unfortunately, most of the relationships current affairs media discussions seem to be doing. This should stop” Muraya adds.

Such framing as “lover bird” “love triangle”, “alikula fare” “turned violent after missing food or finding partner with another” among others when used following a GBV action seem to justify or blame the victims as deserving what befell them, which is very wrong.