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Media, NGOs address awareness of violence against women – Jordan

Originally published in:
Jordan Times
AMMAN — Media representatives and NGOs met on Monday to address the role of the media in raising public awareness of violence against women.

Human rights activists and journalists gathered at the Kempinski Hotel for the symposium, which was hosted by the Amman branch of Freedom House (FH). The event is part of the global campaign "16 Days of Activism Against Family Violence."

"It's all meant to be a start for discussion between NGOs and journalists to work together in the future," said Rana Ishaq, programme officer of Freedom House.

Rana Husseini, The Jordan Times' award-winning journalist for her investigative reporting of honour crimes, spoke during the event about a print-media monitoring project sponsored by FH. The project examines the frequency and quality of the coverage of women's issues from May to December 2004 in the Kingdom's five major daily newspapers.

The subject of honour crimes was among the main issues at Monday's event. In 2004, 20 women who allegedly tarnished family honour were murdered by relatives in the Kingdom. This year, 12 cases have been reported.

According to the UN, there are about 5,000 honour killings in the world yearly.

The findings of the media-monitoring project will be announced once a revision of newspaper clippings is complete.

As for the results of the symposium, Samar Hajhasan, facilitator of the debate and FH consultant, told The Jordan Times that a greater understanding now exists between NGOs and media representatives regarding these sensitive issues. The two sides also agreed on further cooperation and training.

Afaf Jabiri works for the Karama (Dignity) Project, part of V-Day, an organisation that supplies training, funding and support to end violence against women.

With 15 years of activism in the Kingdom, Jabiri said that the main problem regarding media coverage of violence against women is the lack of a connection to other issues, like politics or economics.

"There is no analysis," she said.

Manal Tahtamouni, institute director for family health of the Noor Al Hussein Foundation, agrees.

"For them, it's an event rather than an issue," Tahtamouni said.

She told The Jordan Times that there is often a misunderstanding between the NGOs and the press regarding the role of the media in covering their activities. The NGO's role is to raise awareness and advocate for women's rights while the media covers events and works towards more advocacy, according to Tahtamouni.

The media, she explained, is "an important channel to reach the community and change behaviours."

Among the participants in Monday's symposium were representatives from the five major daily newspapers in Jordan, 25 NGOs, the National Centre for Human Rights and the National Forum for Youth and Culture.