Speakers at the Human Rights Defenders Conference have said
More gender-sensitive journalists should join the newsroom to change the news narrative of rape incidents, human rights defenders have said.
They were speaking at the Human Rights Defenders Conference, organized by Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) at the Liberation War Museum in Dhaka's Agargaon area, as part of a 16-day activist campaign against gender-based violence.
“The matter of rape is not being emphasized enough in the news,” said Aasha Mehreen Amin, senior deputy editor of The Daily Star.
"Although cases like the Nusrat murder got media attention, all other rape incidents should also get media attention," she said.
She recommended gender-sensitive training for the media personnel at every news organization.
While presenting the keynote paper, Associate Professor Sayema Khatun of the Anthropology Department at Jahangir Nagar University said that it is a good sign that the language in media reports about rape incidents is changing, and that this is because of increasing gender-sensitivity among journalists.
ASK founding member Dr Hameeda Hossain questioned why the word ‘shame’ is often attached to rape survivors in the media narrative.
“Rape does not take away the dignity of a woman," she said.
Echoing Hossain, ASK Executive Director Sheepa Hafiza said: “We have to be very careful with the words we choose while reporting on rape incidents. Dignity and rape are two very different issues.”
In the keynote paper, Sayema Khatun said: “Rape is never just a sexual act... rape, whether a gang rape or not, is clearly a violent act that usually takes place within the organized solidarity of a male group. Rapists are often supported by a powerful male network.”
Eiko Narita, deputy country representative of the United Nations Population Fund, said that Bangladesh has achieved a lot on this front, but still 40% of young girls in the country experience some sort of sexual abuse from someone in their family.
At the program, nine journalists were awarded with fellowship certificate for gender sensitive reporting. They are ASM. NTV Senior Correspondent Atiqur Rahman, Banani Mallick, staff reporter of The Daily Observer, Abu Kalam Azad, sub-editor of Dhaka Tribune, Zahidur Rahman, sub-editor of Daily Samakal, Md Kamrul Hasan, staff reporter of Dhaka Tribune, Syeda Farzana Zaman Rumpa, assistant feature editor of bdnews24.com, Nilima Jahan, reporter of The Daily Star, Md Sharful Alam, senior reporter of ATN Bangla, and Md Shafiullah Sumon, senior reporter of BTV.