by Christiana Gokyo, Jos
The Scripture Union West Africa (SUWA) has recently in Jos organized a one-day’s training for Media Persons, Religious and Community Leaders on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) with the aim to build the capacity of religious leaders on using their platform on SGBV and peace building issues.
One of the participants, Dr Rhoda Udanyi, observed that, the circle of continued violence has pushed a lot of young people into drug abuse and early marriages as well as reproductive health and societal culture having brought so much evil in the society.
She noted that, religious leaders, elders of Churches and Mosques have been doing a lot to create a peaceful environment, but when a home is not peaceful, the community cannot be peaceful and, even some of the things that are happening around the community the media are not aware of it.
According her, “Even when such incidences are being reported, Pastors, Imams Church workers are not brought into the scene, because the way the issue is handled at the end doesn’t come out well.
Dr Udanyi further said, “When we talk about SGBV, we are saying Gender on one side, and Gender-based Violence. So, these are two things standing; each time people hear this, they always think that we are taking about women liberation. I don’t believe that.
“The organization is to develop strategies and synergy between SUWA, religious leaders and the media practitioners on mitigating the impact of SGBV in communities, and to identify ways SGBV survivors can see judicial intervention when necessary.”
Also, another participant, Mr Wika Gofwen, said, the GBV Sub-Sector shared a jointly developed GBV response plan, which targeted 1.3 million individuals for direct GBV response services in 2020, with 45 percent and 34 percent of the target population being girls and women, respectively.
According to him, “Journalists and other media professionals play a critical role in not only raising awareness of GBV but also in counteracting myths and outdated attitudes that may persist on the issue.”
He observed that, media reporting and representation of violence against women and girls presents particular challenges and tensions, noting that, “What is a ‘good story’ for journalists or communications teams may not necessarily be in the interest of survivors.”
According to him, providing information on local support services and organizations, who are addressing GBV in the context, with the consent of service providers, media reports can include the contact information of local support organizations and services, in order to allow survivors/witnesses, their families and others, who may have experienced or been affected by GBV to access the care they need.
He noted that, for the media to be respected and trusted, its personnel must demonstrate professional competence, embrace peace journalism that advocates for “balance news coverage, positive education of people about what is going on in a divided society, controlling dangerous rumours and providing a trusted source of information for all parties in a conflict.”