Observers and women’s rights groups have often lamented the unethical and insensitive nature of Indonesian media reports on sexual violence, but media monitoring organization Remotivi has offered some guidelines for journalists covering the issue.
The group says many sexual violence survivors are too ashamed or afraid to report the violence perpetrated on them, and the media and journalists have an important role in ending this with responsible and ethical coverage of sexual violence cases.
“The media reports (of sexual violence) should be able to represent survivors’ voice and advocate public regulations that could be useful to eliminate sexual violence.” Language, it points out, is an important aspect of the coverage on sexual violence. Inappropriate use of language will result in stereotyping and gender discimination, it says.
The information is presented in an easy-to-read infographic divided into dos and don’ts lists. They are grouped in three basic categories. Below are some examples of the content:
1. On the news source: Use a precise term. If the perpetrator’s status is still 'a suspect’ and when using the word ‘allegedly’, it has to be followed by supporting evidence from credible sources. It is important to provide valid evidence and sources, because inaccurate news reports will have significant impacts to the survivors.
2. On description of survivors: Use a term that is empowering and not stigmatizing in describing the survivors. The word “survivor” (penyintas) is better than “victim” (korban), because the latter implies helplessness and that a person is a passive object of violence. Another example, it’s more thoughtful to use the word “sex worker” (pekerja seks komersial) rather than, for instance ‘hooker’ or ‘whore’ (pelacur).
3. On description of incident; Use active sentences with the perpetrator as the subject and avoid using passive sentences with the survivors as the subject, such as “she was raped” or “she was harrassed”. Passive sentence eliminates the perpetrator’s role in the violence.
Read Yunda’s piece on gender-equal Quran interpretation.