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Ivana Zelić Held a Lecture at the Media Studies Department

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Yes­ter­day, the SOS Ser­vice Coor­di­na­tor with the …IZ KRUGAVOJVODINA orga­ni­za­tion Ivana Zelić held a lec­ture on media report­ing about vio­lence against women to junior (third-year) stu­dents with the Media Stud­ies Depart­ment at the Fac­ul­ty of Phi­los­o­phy of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Novi Sad.
She intro­duced the stu­dents to the con­cept and kinds of part­ner­ship and domes­tic vio­lence, as well as the most com­mon prej­u­dices in this respect. Atti­tudes towards vio­lence cre­at­ed under media influ­ence were a spe­cial part of her lec­ture.

Media report­ing in cas­es of vio­lence is pre­dom­i­nant­ly sen­sa­tion­al­ist. It is often the vic­tims who get blamed for the vio­lence by labelling them promis­cu­ous, refer­ring to their pre­vi­ous mar­i­tal sta­tus, pro­fes­sion, etc. On the oth­er hand, the per­pe­tra­tor is pre­sent­ed as some­one who is a good per­son, hard-work­ing and dis­tin­guished, so it is not real­ly clear what made him com­mit vio­lence.

In most cas­es, gen­der-based vio­lence is not get rec­og­nized as a motive for femi­cide. Instead of it, stereo­typ­i­cal expla­na­tions, such as unem­ploy­ment, pas­sion, alco­holism, provo­ca­tion on behalf of the vic­tim and jeal­ousy, are com­mon­ly used expla­na­tions.

Con­cern­ing women with dis­abil­i­ties, the sit­u­a­tion is even more com­pli­cat­ed. Besides sen­sa­tion­al­ism, media also do the fol­low­ing:

  • Use inad­e­quate ter­mi­nol­o­gy (such as a crip­ple, invalid, wheel­chair-bound, per­son with spe­cial needs, etc.);
  • They present women with dis­abil­i­ties as ‘super­heroes’ if they have asked for sup­port or report­ed vio­lence, while per­pe­tra­tors are labelled as psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly ill;
  • They dis­close too many details (pho­tos, footage, women’s tes­ti­monies);
  • Use inap­pro­pri­ate titles and sub­ti­tles;
  • Inspire pity with the audi­ence.

Such way of media report­ing cre­ates a dis­tort­ed pub­lic per­cep­tion of the phe­nomemn of vio­lence against women. It is evi­dent that there are very lit­tle texts on pre­ven­tion, where­as most media reports about this top­ic get pub­lished dur­ing the 16 Days of Activism against Gen­der-Based Vio­lence glob­al cam­paign or when a femi­cide hap­pens.

Stu­dents were pre­sent­ed good and bad exam­ples of media report­ing about vio­lence against women this and the last year, with a remark that an action sur­vey of the Press Coun­cil reveals that the Ser­bian Jour­nal­ists’ Code has been vio­lat­ed 3,191 times over the course of the last three months.

Even­tu­al­ly, it was con­clud­ed that media are allies of women’s orga­ni­za­tions in com­bat­ing vio­lence against women, pro­vid­ed their report­ing is objec­tive, rais­ing aware­ness and influ­enc­ing pro­mo­tion and imple­men­ta­tion of leg­is­la­tion. They send a mes­sage that there is a way out of the vio­lent sit­u­a­tion, inform women on insti­tu­tions and orga­ni­za­tions pro­vid­ing sup­port and assis­tance, edu­cate the pub­lic on issues of vio­lence and bring down prej­u­dice.

Stu­dent were also giv­en basic guide­lines on qual­i­ty report­ing con­cern­ing vio­lence against women because it is the only way they can con­tribute to com­bat­ing vio­lence.