By Sandrine M.
Some Journalists and members of Civil Society Organizations, CSO’s have concluded a workshop on the production and dissemination of anti gender based violence (GBV) content. The workshop took place in Mbankomo, Centre Region of Cameroon from December 13 to 16.
During the workshop, the participants were schooled on human rights and gender rights, as well as other issues related to GBV. They were also introduced to the Principle of “Do No Harm” in relation to GBV. To this, the participants were cautioned on the choices of words which they use in handling GBV issues with emphasis on the need to avoid blaming or shaming victims/survivors of GBV.
The National Gender and Human Rights Specialist, at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Mballa Ebengue Julie, highlights the purpose of this workshop.
Human Rights Specialist, UNDP, Mballa Ebengue Julie,
“We organised the workshop to have the media and civil society organisations (CSO), members of the national platform to fight against GBV and human rights violation carrying out activities in the framework of the 16 days of activism against GBV to report to us while continuing the training so that they improve on what they are doing. Since we have to organise a campaign on social media, radio and TV against GBV next year, we wanted the participants to elaborate their action plan.”
According to Mballa Ebengue Julie, it is hoped that the participants from this training help to change the narrative on GBV.
“I expect that what is said about GBV on media will change so that victims and survivors will know that they can be heard and assisted. I hope the media takes this as a responsibility to make things change in the fight against GBV and human rights violation. For CSO’s, I wish they use the media as allies to help them in their work”.
The National Coordinator for the Cameroon Association of Women in Media (AFMEC), Tchonko Becky Bissong was among the participants of this workshop and shared her opinion on how Journalists can go about reporting issues related to GBV.
National Coordinator, AFMEC, Tchonko Becky Bissong
“Reporting GBV is complex because sometimes it happens from our families, in church, sometimes it happens in the workplace with people you know and respect. So generally, the reporter is caught in the web of embarrassment. How do you report something about an uncle or a niece without betraying their confidence. But if we remember the ABC of journalism, if we remember that our main responsibility is to protect victims of human rights violation, then we will be reporting bearing in mind that we are supposed to protect the victim, shame, humiliate or not report the issue as if the victim is the guilty one. Journalists have to keep on researching…the advise to colleagues is that we should go back to the drawing board. What is the guiding principle as we report any other issue. What do we want to portray in that case or in that story about the form of GBV that occurred. Who is to be protected or who is to be sanctioned. When we have all this in mind and remember that the law is there to guide us, we will do a balance, fair and credible report.”
Becky Bissong furthered by urging victims/survivors of GBV, male and female alike to always shun the fear and report perpetrators.
“…I think that speaking out is key to addressing the issue. Speakiing out is key to stopping that perpetrator from trying it with another person. Speaking out is pointing to the legal arm to take action, to sanction to prosecute the perpetrator and speaking out to victims is the beginning of the psychosocial healing process. It also deters another perpetrator who may be around the vicinity or sitting at home and hearing you speak on the media…have a little faith and confidence in media persons. We are here to help heal our society of these kinds of ailments. Things that have been happening over the years which society has taken as normal”.
Each passing day, cases of GBV are being recorded but most often the perpetrators are not known or pointed out. It is hoped that survivors of GBV mount the courage to always point out the perpetrators so as to avoid future occurrences. The need for massive sensitization on GBV issues especially in local communities keep increasing everyday this as it has become more than an epidemic which the society has to deal with.