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Health and Sanity

Valentina Nicolae
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piqer: Valentina Nicolae
Thursday, 29 November 2018

Reporting Women

This episode of The Documentary podcast focuses on how media reports about issues that predominantly affect women — like abortion, rape, domestic violence — and on whether they are reporting at all about things that matter to women. To find that out, reporter Lyse Doucet travelled around India and talked to students about how women are portrayed in the Indian media landscape, and also what’s missing from it. What’s reassuring about the interviews with those young men and women is that they’re so clear and critical in their opinions.

They discuss, for example, that yes, it’s a good thing that journalists are writing about sexual violence. But if they describe the woman solely as a victim and help advance this narrative of helplessness, then it’s not so good anymore. Another frequent approach is shaming the victims of assaults and putting a focus on what they were wearing and what exactly they did to ask for violence. A student’s comment on this is: “The media show how a girl should learn karate, but never says that the guy who rapes should undergo yoga or something”. Another one talks about Bollywood movies glorifying the stalking of girls by boys and about how that translates into reality: you grow up thinking that “no means yes” and that fervent pursuit of a girl will eventually break her will. But, he candidly says, you just get rejected many times and it hurts.

In the second half of the show, Doucet discusses issues with three other journalists who are covering women’s affairs in Delhi, West Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. But, rest assured, the issues they are raising extend beyond the boundaries of those regions. They talk about how sensitive reporting advances a conversation about, say, sexual harassment in India — a thing overlooked as unimportant until recently. And they say women want to be represented not just in the context of aggression against them, but also in that of day-to-day life. 

Reporting Women
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