This is an excellent piece by Arthur Okwemba about marital rape in Kenya. He talks about the silence from the media when it comes to reporting on gender-based violence. While written about Kenya, it could pertain to any country.
Media’s role in marital rape by Arthur Okwemba
You can find the Gender and Media Progress Study that he references here.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
This may be one of the reasons why the 2010 Gender and Media Progress Study found that stories about gender-based violence are rarely covered by media, accounting for just four percent of all stories in southern Africa, despite countless other studies which note it is a widespread problem.
When rare stories are produced about young or middle-aged women being raped, journalists usually shift their reporting, suggesting that somehow the women “asked for it”.
Questions arise. What was she wearing? Was she drunk? Where did it happen? Should she have been there? What time of night was it?
Similarly, when a woman is killed or battered by her husband, the story is framed as a love triangle gone wrong.
Rarely do reporters dig deeper to investigate causes or patterns of violence, linking them to poverty levels, lack of human rights protections (or knowledge of them), or legal systems that take forever to hear and pass verdict on cases of gender-based violence.
Rarely do media report on the massive cost of gender-based violence in terms of treatment of injuries and sexually-transmitted disease, not to mention missed work hours.
What about the invisible but extensive cost to our society when this cycle of violence is passed down from absent abusive fathers to their children. Why don’t journalists write about this?
In the mindset of many in the media, gender-based violence is not an issue worthy of paper and ink.