By Royal Ibeh,
The United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU), in collaboration with the federal government, have called on the media to increase participation in ending VAWG in Nigeria.
The UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, at a Webinar organised by Spotlight Initiative in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and supported by UN and EU on the topic, “The Role of the Media in promoting accountability to end violence against women and girls” said the media play a significant role in shaping the public opinion on gender based violence.
“The media must therefore apply ethics when reporting on gender based violence and avoid use of vulgar language. Also, the media should work with all stakeholders involved in the fight against gender based violence to end VAWG, believing that there is light at the end of the tunnel to address this menace,” he adds.
Kallon stated that the UN has committed $500 million in global investment to fight violence against women and gender equality and will continue to provide the enabling environment for the implementation of its 17 development goal as there is need to protect and empower women.
He promised to continously work to support Nigerian government as 43 percent of girls before the age 15 have suffered one form of sexual abuse or the other and the public sector media must take the lead in educating the public on issues of VAWG, bring to limelight the stereotypes of the society and take the lead in collecting evidence to end violence anywhere in Nigeria.
In his remark, the EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ketil Karlsen said the time has come for everyone and the media to break the culture of silence, speak out and help to end VAWG. “The media have a strong role to play, make commitment to ensure these remain on the front burner and ensure the identity of victims is protected,” he adds.
Karlsen, who was represented by Mr Clement Boutillier, head of section democracy in the EU office here in Nigeria, reiterated that the media houses in Nigeria have the responsibility to be sensitive in reporting on violence on the vulnerable groups.
In the same vein, the Senior Special Assistant on media to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Garba Shehu said government is concerned on national security, especially on issues that will affect and hamper the security of the country.
Shehu condemned contents that threatens National security, bullies, harasses and affects the safety of women and children, minorities, ethnic religions and the pervasive use of internet to stream abuses of children, adding that it is not acceptable to Buhari administration.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pouline Tallen said gender based violence remains a serious threat to women and girls and can be controlled through risk factor and amplified occupancy of incidents by the media.
The Minister who was represented by a director of Women Department in the ministry of Women Affairs, stated that during the early stage of COVID-19, the rate of violence against women was very high, which if not addressed will lead to society dislocation, social and economic losses, and will adversely affect the development of the nation, while urging the media to play a great role in reversing the trend.
Child Protection Specialist at the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Olasunbo Odebode said, media content can reproduce gender stereotypes that associate a male identity with violence, domination, independence, aggression, and power, while women are depicted as emotional, vulnerable, and sensitive, and dependent upon male actions.
Odebode however said, “It is the role of the media to change negative social norms on violence against women and girls and to raise awareness against the violence to shaping the public opinion and discourse in order to promote justice for survivors to influence behaviors including the young people.”