This August, the #GBVinMedia toolkit travelled outside of Delhi for the first time! After a successful launch in Delhi in July, and our Media Rumble Masterclass in early August, it was time for us to pack our bags and launch the toolkit in Mumbai, as well as visit with some great university students and talk about gender-sensitive journalism with them as well.
On 27 August 2019, we launched the #GBVinMedia Toolkit at the Mumbai Press Clubin collaboration with Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). Over fifty journalists, gender experts and media students gathered to hear about the launch of the toolkit and discuss how they could join the #GBVinMedia movement to push gender-sensitive journalism forward. The event was subsequently covered in The Hindu!
Before we got into the thick of things, we had a short presentation by CHRI, who spoke about their project – the City Core Group. The City Core Group is a network of activists, lawyers and professionals that are committed to ensuring better policing and access to justice for women and girls in the city of Mumbai, and work together in order to do so. The #GBVinMedia Toolkit was brought to Mumbai with the support of CHRI, to whom we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity!
Next up, Japleen Pasricha, the Founder-Director of Feminism in India, introduced FII as a platform, and the origins of the #GBVinMedia campaign, back in 2015. The campaign had begun as a series of articles that aimed to document insensitive media reportage of gender-based violence. However, the topic had a lot of scope, which led to the genesis of the #GBVinMedia toolkit. Japleen then invited the FII Campaign Manager and lead researcher of the toolkit, Asmita Ghosh, on stage to talk about the toolkit itself.
In case you are unacquainted, let’s begin with an introduction of the toolkit. The #GBVinMedia toolkit is a media ethics toolkit for media professionals to employ ethical journalism when reporting on gender-based violence. It was designed with the objective of providing media platforms and professionals a handy guide to report gender-based violence. The language employed by the media in reporting gender-based violence is crucial in furthering a society that is more informed and sensitive to survivors. Unfortunately, the reality is such that many media practices tend to perpetuate patriarchal mindsets and rape culture. This 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.
Asmita spent the next hour diving into the various tenets of the toolkit, starting with how gender-based violence had to be viewed holistically and systemically, instead of as a series of randomised, isolated incidents, and moving on to how sensationalist headlines and close-up views of GBV propagated the latter understanding of GBV. She spoke about how language used by the media could propagate rape culture – from promoting victim blaming, to insinuating that the woman is lying, to trivialising the gravity of the crime by not naming violence as violence. We had an interesting Q&A at the end of the session, with students, journalists and development sector professionals raising questions and offering suggestions for the toolkit.
On the day following the press launch, Asmita Ghosh and the CHRI team visited two colleges – St Paul’s Institute of Communication Education, Bandra and SNDT Women’s University, Juhu. At St. Paul’s, Asmita addressed about 100 undergraduate students who came from programs in journalism, public relations and advertisement, on the importance of gender-sensitive language and reportage. At SNDT Women’s University, the team addressed postgraduate students of English Studies and Women’s Studies, who came from diverse backgrounds in journalism, film, television, and even the corporate sector.
Team FII hopes to be able to reach out to media schools and media houses all over the country in order to create a nationwide movement for gender-sensitive journalism. We are currently in the process of reaching out to as many media schools and media houses as possible, and encourage any interested parties to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.