What is the 16 Days of Activism Campaign?
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence is a global campaign that was started in 1991.The campaign hopes to raise awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international level.
Last year, we ran a campaign titled 16 DOA Campaign Against Sexual Harassment where we asked people to submit personal stories of sexual harassment to shift the focus from the survivor to the perpetrator. What resulted was, we collected 16 extremely personal and brilliant stories of street and sexual harassment. The campaign was a success and was also awarded the Laadli Media Award 2015 for Best Web Campaign in English.
Words are powerful, and how mainstream media talks, writes, represents and reports on gender and gender-based violence makes a huge impact on how people perceive it. This campaign explored how Indian mainstream media has misrepresented and misreported gender and gender based violence.
The campaign looked at mainly three kinds of media: mainstream news media, popular media and social media. Under news media, mainstream English print and digital publications were analysed on the kind of language they use, the pictures they put and the headlines they fix to reports on gender-based violence. Popular media analysis included cinema, books, music, advertisements, YouTube videos, television among others. A special focus was on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and how they silence the voices of women and sexual minorities and in turn perpetuate gender-based violence.
Secondly, gender-based violence was not only restricted to violence against women, but also violence against marginalized genders & sexualities, caste-based violence and violence against disabled women.
At the end of the campaign, a set of recommendations and best practices were presented on how media can improve reportage on gender and gender¬based violence and implement ethical journalism.
Below are the stories, tweet-chats and posters from the #GBVInMedia campaign.
The campaign was a huge success and was covered by reputed news publications like DNA and The Guardian. The campaign saw not only FII contributors participate in it, but also journalists and media professionals. We received so many contributions that we had to extend the campaign date to 16th December from the initial 10th December. The campaign received artwork in contribution and covered a large area of issues from caste-based violence to violence against women with disabilities and LGBTQ people.
One of the campaign contributor and regular FII writer, Aishwarya Subramanian, says,
Writing for GBV Campaign was empowering because I could finally speak about how it feels to witness it, to go through it and to survive it. I could speak for myself and for women (and men) like me. It’s an important conversation that needs to be had with all genders present and all genders listening to one another. It’s an important conversation to initiate. And it’s an important conversation that women must be a part of.
The campaign was then further translated into talks presented at national and international conferences. Below are the testimonies from four people who participated in the campaign directly or indirectly.
To counter and also raise awareness about gender-based violence in the media, Nov 25 to Dec 10, saw FII run an intensive campaign that analysed the various misrepresentations that exist in media. FII analysed different mediums including literature, movies, TV shows, news, music industry, advertising and other industries to shine a light on the sexism and at times blatant misogyny that these media forms continue to support. I had the pleasure of covering the campaign for DNA and must applaud the contributors of FII for covering the issue.
Japleen Pasricha’s presentation laid the groundwork for sensitive and inclusive thought on how mainstream media represents gender and gender-based violence. This powerful speech implored social media and reporters around the world to understand how their words are read and heard by their audience, and what part they play in the perpetuation of gender-violence. We would all do well to take note of this message to more genuinely represent all of the voices in our global environment.
The #GBVInMedia campaign was a much needed campaign to focus attention on media coverage of issues relating to gender violence. The messenger needs to be trained and critiqued so that the messages put out by it are meaningful, relevant and can help combat gender stereotypes and gender violence. I was happy to participate in this effort by Feminism In India.
At a time when mainstream media either erases gender based violence or attempts to sauce it up, #GBVInMedia was an illuminating critique into biases and areas left uncovered. Participation in the campaign was a learning exercise into how many women viewed coverage as half-baked, offensive or violating. As a media person, took home many lessons.
- How mainstream media promotes gender-based violence (and how feminists are fighting it), DNA, December 2015
- Ending violence against women: how you supported the 16 days of activism, The Guardian, December 2015
- Victims Once and Forever, The Hans India, December 2015
- Delhi group seeks to demystify feminism, Live Mint, March 2016
Campaign #GBVInMedia was part of a Lightning Talk titled “Words Are Powerful: How can mainstream media implement ethical journalism and gender-sensitive reporting” by founder Japleen Pasricha at RightsCon 2016 – an annual conference intersecting internet and human rights organised by Access Now – an organisation that defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world. By combining innovative policy, user engagement, and direct technical support, they fight for open and secure communications for all.
Campaign #GBVInMedia was part of a talk titled “Word Empowers Majority” by founder Japleen Pasricha at Litmus Festival 2016 – an experimental word-fest that explores the word at the crosshair of technology & tradition organised by For Young India – an organisation that aims to create meaningful experiences for the young Indian. They understand the importance of well-curated, critical content and its impact, and strive consistently to benchmark the same. We believe in the power of the digital medium and are excited by the vast array of possibilities that it throws up.