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On 3rd August 2019, Team FII presented the #GBVinMedia toolkit as a masterclass on gender-sensitive reportage at the Media Rumble conference by Newslaundry. The #GBVinMedia toolkit is a media ethics toolkit for journalists and media professionals to report gender-based violence (GBV) more sensitively that FII launched earlier this year.

The #GBVinMedia toolkit provides an overview of the nature of rape reportage in English language media in India, and lists a number of ways in which problematic media practices can be replaced with sensitive and affirming methods that uphold the rights and dignity of survivors of sexual violence.

It was an honour to present this toolkit at the Media Rumble – a media conference that brought together global and local media commentators in a two-day event including panels, masterclasses, film-screenings and performances, with attendees across graduate students, journalists, policy-makers, PR and technology professionals, and analysts. This year, the Media Rumble had a special focus on gender, caste and community representation in the media.

The #GBVinMedia toolkit delved into the way that survivors of gender-based violence are represented in mainstream media. With an audience of journalists, editors and media students, we provided qualitative examples of insensitive reportage. For instance, the way extraneous details about survivors are highlighted in media reports about rape, including their relationship status, clothes or the fact that they had been drinking, leading to a victim-blaming mindset.

In contrast, reports are often sympathetic to perpetrators, especially when they come from a high standing in society, or when they commit crimes “of passion”. In this vein, the use of the term “jilted lovers” and “roadside Romeo” was discussed in the way in which they minimised or justified crimes of sexual abuse and harassment. The perpetrator is also often entirely missing from headlines about sexual violence, underscoring the point that gender-based violence is a “woman’s issue”, with men not being held accountable for their actions.

The workshop wrapped up with an engaging discussion between audience members and the team. The FII team is looking to present this toolkit in seminars, conferences and workshops in media schools and media houses across India, in a bid to drive the movement for gender-sensitive journalism forward. If you would like to get in touch, please email asmita@feminisminindia.com to discuss collaborations.

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