Media Reports and Gender Based Violence

A number of these terms are popularly used in reports related to sexual violence in the Indonesian mass media: rotating, young widows, flirting, to sexy clothes. Such reports attract readers, but obscure context. Worse, potentially fertilize similar acts.

This is not a new phenomenon, but lately it has been increasing, especially in the era of online media. The demands of media management to make money, are met by attracting as many readers as possible to their pages. In the end, journalists are required to write a report, which provokes the interest of the reader to open the book, only by reading the title first.

Of course, this condition provoked the concerns of a number of parties, such as Eko Bambang Subiantoro, the manager of the Konde.co website who is also an activist in the New Men’s Alliance.

“For me, the use of these terms is very crucial to become a homework for media friends and efforts to eliminate gender-based violence. Because the use of terms in this journalistic product really affects the readers,” said Eko.

The Indonesian Women’s Coalition and Rutgers WPF Indonesia held training for journalists and media related to Gender and Sexually Based Violence (KBGS). Eko became one of the speakers in the three-day online training, 21-23 October. The discussion on the tendency of inaccurate media reports regarding gender-based violence became one session, out of a number of sessions held.

Term Blurring Problems

Some of the terms that were exemplified by Eko, among others, are taking turns, which are often used in cases of rape with more than one perpetrator. In fact, this rotating term does not place the case as a tragedy of sexual violence. Instead, it seems to be a place to win victory from men to rape.

Female activist from the non-violence movement holds a banner that reads "Eradicate Sexual Violence?  There must be a way!" when protesting sexual harassment and violence against women.  (Photo: AFP/Adek Berry)

Women activists from the non-violence movement hold banners that read “Eradicate Sexual Violence? There Must Be a Way!” when protesting sexual harassment and violence against women. (Photo: AFP/Adek Berry)

The use of the term young widow with the impression of being a trouble maker is also regrettable. Reports like this, make the media obscure the real issue in the context of rape cases, which are related to widowed female victims. The term widow is reasonable to use because it is a word that is commonly understood. However, its use is not appropriate if it then places the image of a widow as a trouble maker.

The media also often cover women’s capacities and reduce them with physical appearance. For example, the achievements of the athletes are closed by highlighting their physical beauty. On the other hand, women victims are also often harmed through the depiction of physical appearance. For example, rape victims are depicted in sexy clothes.

“These perceptions, if they continue to occur in the community, are actually counterproductive to our efforts to build various steps, to eliminate gender-based violence,” added Eko.

A singer performs in front of supporters of Indonesian presidential candidate Jusuf Kalla and his running mate Wiranto, during an election campaign rally in Jakarta, July 2, 2009. (Photo: REUTERS/Dadang Tri)

A singer performs in front of supporters of Indonesian presidential candidate Jusuf Kalla and his running mate Wiranto, during an election campaign rally in Jakarta, July 2, 2009. (Photo: REUTERS/Dadang Tri)

There are also reports titles that have the potential to build inaccurate understanding constructions and harm victims. For example, reports about a wife who was slapped by her husband for not cooking, a wife being abused for not being able to dress up, or a wife being killed by her husband for refusing to have sex. A number of media also give space to report on polygamy without giving a fair perspective for women. The story of a man marrying two women at once is reported with pride.

Even so, Eko admitted that in a number of cases, the media was able to properly oversee cases of sexual violence. As a result, law enforcement officers are working to resolve the case, after previously receiving less attention.

Need Journalist Accuracy

The head of Komnas Perempuan, Andy Yentriyani.  Monday 18 October 2021. (Anugrah Andriansyah)

The head of Komnas Perempuan, Andy Yentriyani. Monday 18 October 2021. (Anugrah Andriansyah)

Speaking at the KPI training, Andy Yentriyani, the Chief Commissioner of Komnas Perempuan also said that the use of the term has an important meaning. He explained that in the Criminal Code, rape, sexual intercourse and obscenity are three crimes that have different legal consequences. In a number of cases, journalists often use the term obscenity, even though in principle it is an act of rape.

“Rape, the maximum criminal threat is 12 years. But if friends use obscene words, even though the act is rape, the criminal threat immediately drops to 9 years, ”said Andy.

Andy reminded, victims need the help of journalists to voice the problems they face appropriately. The goal is that those who are responsible for solving the problem work well. However, journalists need accuracy in their work.

“The choice of words, in my opinion, shows our accuracy and depth in the situation faced by the victim. And strive that what we convey is really not only a bridge of voices, but also support that can be given to victims,” ​​he added.

There are also trends that need improvement. In a number of cases, said Andy, more attention is paid to the legal process for the perpetrators or suspects. However, there are many aspects that need answers. For example why the incident occurred, the impact received by the victim, and the condition.

Women's rights activists hold a demonstration to commemorate International Women's Day in Jakarta on March 8, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Adek Berry)

Women’s rights activists hold a demonstration to commemorate International Women’s Day in Jakarta on March 8, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Adek Berry)

“The power of the media, in my opinion, is to help build that discourse. It helps to see that there are other ways for us to look at this situation systemically, so that the response is more comprehensive,” Andy added.

Reveal the Root of the Problem

A lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Gadjah Mada University, Sri Wiyanti Eddyono, mentioned a number of roles that the media can take in an effort to suppress the practice of gender-based violence.

First, he said, is to promote women’s rights, including the rights of victims.

“How do we dismantle the stereotypes that are very strong at the level of law enforcement? Like it or not, by promoting women’s rights, victims’ rights, monitoring so that the law enforcement process does not perpetuate existing stereotypes, thus preventing the revictimization of victims,” ​​said Sri Wiyanti.

The media can also strengthen policy advocacy, including support for existing initiatives to eliminate sexual violence.

Sri Wiyanti Eddyono from the UGM FH research team explained the influence of religion in legal products in Indonesia.  (Photo: UGM Public Relations)

Sri Wiyanti Eddyono from the UGM FH research team explained the influence of religion in legal products in Indonesia. (Photo: UGM Public Relations)

“I always think that even one paragraph is very meaningful. A very powerful paragraph,” he said.

The media, Sri Wiyanti continued, should disclose the phenomena that occurred. Describes why an event occurred, but does not need to speculate. He gave an example, in the case of child marriage, for example, the media can explore the context, what is the root of the problem, and also explain the impact of child marriage. For example, the tendency for high divorce rates in child marriages. Also, child marriage does not automatically improve the economic condition of the family, especially from the side of women.

Sri Wiyanti also advised the media to borrow their views, or to ask sources with clear sides to comment on the issue.

“The media should explore the problem, reveal the root of the problem, see the impact and what steps must be taken in the future,” he said.

Partisanship of Journalists and Readers

The tendency of the media to report cases of gender-based violence with inappropriate terms is acknowledged by Irwan Syambudi, a journalist for online media Tirto.id.

“Yes, I think the trend is still a lot, especially local media. Their role is important indeed, to uncover events that are not covered by the national media. But in my opinion, sometimes the method is wrong by making bombastic titles, to attract wider public attention,” he said when contacted FLY on separate occasions.

For a number of reasons, journalists cannot necessarily be blamed. Recently, when online media is growing rapidly, the competition has become so fierce, especially to get the attention of readers. Moreover, the media must fight over the revenue cake, where the number of clicks, in certain cases is very decisive.

Irwan agrees, such practices should be ended immediately.

Women who are going to work are seen jostling in a train carriage at the Sudimara train station on the outskirts of Jakarta, June 3, 2013. (Photo: REUTERS/Beawiharta)

Women who are going to work are seen jostling in a train carriage at the Sudimara train station on the outskirts of Jakarta, June 3, 2013. (Photo: REUTERS/Beawiharta)

“Moreover, vulgar and erotic words are just for clicks. It is necessary to end such practices of journalism. There are many ways I think that can be taken, just to find clicks or get a lot of readers. As long as we reveal facts, convey and touch human values, people will read them,” continued Irwan.

He also believes, whatever the context, the practice of journalism should not judge or corner one party. Moreover, said Irwan, in the context of women or men who are victims of sexual violence.

“I think the media should start taking sides with the victims of sexual violence, by choosing the right diction, without having to highlight eroticism,” he said.

Irwan believes that readers have understood how good reports are related to sexual violence. For example, reports that have a victim perspective and reveal a lot of facts, through rigid journalism work. In addition to improvements from the journalist’s point of view, Irwan views media readers as having to take sides, by reading more quality reports.

“Recently, maybe we can see how the multatuli project is doing very well in making reports on rape cases which have become public attention. That’s a very good report in my opinion. And these good and quality reports should be read and supported by the public,” he added. [ns/ah]

Check Also

Two Suspected Sumatran Tiger Skin Sellers Arrested in Aceh

FLY — Head of the Balai Gakkum Sumatra Region Section I Medan, Haluanto Ginting, said …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *