KARACHI: Tehrik-e-Niswan organized National Seminar on ‘Violence Against Women and Girls and Role of Media’ at Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi.
Followed by an introductory note by the Tehreek’s founder in which she informed the audience about the steps taken by the organization to uplift the status of women in Pakisan , theatre play scenes were performed by Tehrik-e-Niswan Cultural Action Group, depicting discrimination, prejudice and many types of violence that women and girls face in their daily lives right from the time they are born.
A moving, new, motivational music-video created by Tehrik-e-Niswan, based on lyrics written by the renowned poet Fahmida Riaz was shown. It depicted the horrific crime of rape with the strong message that the rapist is the criminal and must be punished, while the rape survivor must be supported by society, and empowered to live a life of respect and dignity.
A pilot episode for a new TV series produced by Tehrik-e-Niswan, on the various forms of violence that women and girls face in our society, called ‘Helpline’, also was launched.
This was followed by a lively and passionate discussion on the role of media and the portrayal of women, with panelists including Seema Tahir Khan, Advocate Maliha Zia Lari, Tasneem Ahmar of UKS Research Centre, Jalila Haider a young activist from Balochistan, Gullalai of Khwendo Kor from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Nafisa Shah MNA/PPP, Sana Baloch, poet Fahmida Riaz, writer Zaheda Hina and activist Tahira Abdullah.
The seminar adopted the following demands and recommendations, and also presented them to Iram Khalid, representing the Women’s Development Department, Government of Sindh:
-The media is not just a source of entertainment or information or opinion – in our given situation it must serve as a tool of alternative education, conscience and awareness-raising, particularly in terms of the basic human rights of women and girls.
-The media must not portray women and girls in a manner that promotes or reinforces negative stereotypes, especially regarding the “permissibility of sanctioned violence.
-The media must never glamourise violence against women and girls in any way, especially in dramas/plays/films/songs/advertisements/news/current affairs, as the viewers tend to internalize and view the heroes of TV plays as role models.
-The so-called “honour” killings, gang-rapes, acid crimes, giving away girls as “compensation”, and other inhuman practices of violence against women and girls must be condemned and eliminated from the media.
-The media must not glorify those who perpetrate such attacks but must name and shame the perpetrators.
It is imperative that the print and electronic public and private media houses and groups must own and adhere to the Uks Code of Ethics for Gender-Sensitive media (2013), which was produced in consultation with media houses and received their prior endorsement too.
The media must promote gender justice and equality, project women and girls as equal human beings, not show working women as unfaithful and evil, and must help to change the misogynist and patriarchal mindsets and attitudes of men in our society towards women and girls.