Press Release by Uks Research, Resource & Publication Center, Islamabad
Islamabad: Decmeber 9, 2020: Uks Research, Resource & Publication Center Islamabad and World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) Global jointly organized a webinar on the topic of Will the media start reporting rape? observing International Human Rights Day. Having renowned journalists, media practitioners and human rights activists on the platform. The purpose of the webinar was to have a debate with participants on the mismatch of media’s reporting on rape cases with the actual rape incidents happening.
Anchoring the webinar Executive Director of Uks research Ms. Tasneem Ahmar drew a quick comparison between the rape reporting statistics by sharing Uks’s work on reporting of rape incidents with the audience and shared that the language used regarding these incidents was worth a second glance.
Editor Daily Dawn Zaffar Abbas acknowledged that improvement has been seen and there is still room for improvement regarding reporting of rape cases. He also admitted that it is hard to report all the cases with current rate of rape incidents, recommended that there has to be a particular and sole monitoring for the purpose of collecting data and publication of statistics.
Zarrar Khuhro – A t.v. show host questioned the content of reported rape incidents as he stated that it was more important to note what is actually being said than whether or not it’s being reported because it is probably being reported just for the sake of it.
Huma Amir Shah – A famous morning show host on Geo News, touched upon the dilemma of insensitive and unethical projection of rape cases on social media referring to the Kashmore Child Rape case, she shed light on another aspect that the media uses words with the wrong connotation like “ziyadti” saying that the equivalent for the word rape doesn’t exist in Urdu.
Political talk show host Asma Shirazi agreed that certain cases gain more attention and others don’t and similarly other beats always gain special attention even though rape is an equally important discussion and yet there are only certain slots that cover rape. But she believed that something worth mentioning is the progress media has made regarding the right to privacy of a victim.
Chairperson of HRCP Zohra Yusuf shared that rape of a minor is assertion of power. Cases of rape of a woman and girls are addressed more than that of boys in madrassas. The reporting comes in a huge spotlight and then very less follow-ups appear.
Drama writer Bee Gul expressed sorrow over the fact that people rather entertain themselves with rape cases. She also expressed that portrayal of rape is very hard keeping in mind that it could trigger people. She said that it is important to change the mindsets of people who suppress rape cases but ensuring safe portrayal is important.
Riaz Sohail – A journalist associated with BBC Urdu elaborated a few ethical codes regarding the reporting of rape with respect to protecting the survivors’ identity- A versed female reporter Fauzia Shahid expressed her dismay and frustration over the mentality of Urdu newspapers as they still appear to be very conservative, journalist Zafar Baloch stated that reporting does take place in Baluchistan and the media did try its best to get to the victims of harassment and rape victims but the victims failed to open up about these issues in this particular area.
Bureau Chief Aaj News Peshawar Farzana Ali shared that the survivor always finds it hard to open up about this discussion as there are certain aspects that affect their confidence including their own family.
Executive Director Uks Ms. Tasneem Ahmar concluded the discussion by saying that the word rape should be normalized both in English and Urdu media.