La información sobre
violencia de género
Gender Equality Conference: “Media and the Image of Women”
(Council of Europe Network of National Focal Points on Gender Equality)
Amsterdam, 4-5 July 2013
Presentation by Pilar López Díez (1):
Male violence against women, or gender-based violence, is the most important problem to be overcome in order to achieve de facto equality between women and men. My presentation will focus on the experience obtained in more than fifteen years of working with the Spanish media and public institutions about the content and treatment of gender violence news.
First of all, I believe that ensuring the public’s right to pluralistic, truthful information with regard to gender equality in order to make citizens freer should be compatible with freedom of expression. As Article 10 of the ECHR was interpreted , this is not only applicable to “information” or to “ideas that are favourably received or considered innocuous or neutral, but also those that offend, scandalize or bother, as this is what pluralism, tolerance and a broader view demand, and without them there would be no ‘democratic society’”. I believe that media industries do not put freedom of expression into practice because they rob the voices of dissident women through traditional roles, and magnify and repeat ad nauseam the commentaries of people satisfied with the statu quo. We challenge the media to implement real freedom of expression, reflecting information, arguments and positions that those of us who are in favour of gender equality defend, as explained below, and which more traditional and conservative minds find bothersome, offensive and scandalous. Under those circumstances we would defend freedom of expression.
Freedom of expression, in Spain at least, is limited and self-regulated in the media when it comes to sensitive topics, such as terrorism. As is indicated in RTVE’s Style Manual, images and sounds that may offend audiences are avoided; or, for example, interviews with members of terrorist organizations who justify or do not condemn violence are avoided. However, the same is not true of the excuses and statements of abusers, family members or neighbours in the case of gender violence; these declarations are some times benevolent and sympathetic toward the perpetrators, if not outright defences of their innocence. With regard to freedom of expression, I maintain there is a need to apply the same criteria to gender-based violence as to terrorism, as I stated in these declarations: http://www.europapress.es:80/00280/20071121195019/pilar-lopez-diez-propone-tratar-igual-informacion-violencia-contra-mujeres-terrorismo.html. (In the last fourteen years there have been 1,012 women murdered in Spain by their boyfriends or husbands; the number of people killed by ETA in the same period was 82.)
1. Male aggression against women has been featured in national headlines and in lead stories on television and radio news since 1997. This was achieved thanks to the feminist movement and its influence on the political agenda and, thus, on the media agenda. Law 1/2004 was vital for bringing this problem into focus as a public matter. Since then, in Spain, any time a woman is murdered it has routinely been included on the news.
2. If the most intolerable acts of male violence against women—homicide or murder—are covered by the media, this makes it possible to give visibility to the main cause of this violence against women, “based on the unequal power relations between women and men” and thus avoid the motives that have been used in the past to justify it: alcohol, drug addiction, unemployment, etc., which have helped society condone such violence. (According to the Special Eurobarometer 344; 2010, on “Domestic Violence against Women” in the EU15, “Alcohol and drug abuse are widely considered the most prominent causes of domestic violence, 94% and 94%”. In ten years only three countries lowered these rates, among them Spain, which went from 98% to 88%).
3. In order to correctly treat information on male violence against women, the classification of this crime has been a subject of debate in the news media. There is a tendency to dilute men’s responsibility, qualifying this crime as “domestic violence”, “family violence”, etc. Seeing as there has been an Organic Law of Comprehensive Measures in Effect against Gender Violence since 2004, it is recommended that journalists refer to this crime as “gender violence”, “gender-based violence” or “male violence against women”.
4. In Spain, since the year 2000 there have been more than thirty documents published that contain recommendations, best practices and guidelines for the press. One of the most widely-adopted was the “Emergency Manual for Presentation of News of Violence against Women”, by RTVE, in 2002. The first point says: “The presence of women in the media must be broadened, in order to avoid their victimization.” The editors and journalists of the newspaper Público approved a self-regulatory code to suitably handle this type of news; point 9 of this code said: “We will also report on so-called ongoing violence (beatings, psychological abuse and other manifestations even though they don’t result in death)” and they asked their readers to demand that the newspaper’s journalists fulfil this code.
5. From 2009 to 2011 there was a work group made up of experts, representatives of the press (both public and private), professional associations and public institutions, the goal of which was to raise awareness in all the sectors involved in the question of how to suitably handle this type of news.
6. There have been training courses offered for journalists, especially in public audiovisual media, on treatment of the news from a gender perspective. However, in June 2013, intermediate-level personnel (head news writers and editors) along with the TV news manager (a woman) were assigned a training session on this subject for the first time. This occurred at CRTVG, public broadcasting of Galicia, whose television and radio are both directed by women. 25 people attended and it was very well received. (Until that time, items classified as news-events lasted barely 28”; after the information session we find stories lasting 1’14”: http://www.crtvg.es/informativos/as-mulleres-maltratadas-en-situacion-de-urxencia-seran-acollidas-en-24-horas-609636).
7. Male violence against women must be addressed by the media without any erroneous gestures of neutrality. To ensure that public opinion directly rejects this type of violence, the media must take a clear position in favour of the women victims and against the male aggressors. This treatment in the media means that Spanish public opinion increasingly assigns responsibility for gender violence to the male abusers; today there are very few professionals in journalism who can suggest that the victims are responsible, which was, nonetheless, a common practice barely five-ten years ago.
(1) La versión en español, en "Artículos recientes".
Miércoles, 27 noviembre
“La nueva atracción para las jóvenes: la sumisión en el amor. El poder de las sombras de Grey” en la
JORNADA CIENTÍFICA DEL VALEDOR DO POBO:
"Violencia de género entre adolescentes: las nuevas tecnologías
Lugar: Salón de los Reyes del Parlamento de Galicia.
Calle del Hórreo, 63. Santiago de Compostela.
Participación en el Encuentro:
Organiza: MEDIANE (Media in Europe for Diversity Inclusiveness)
Programa conjunto a U.E. y el Consejo de Europa. Florencia.
7 Noviembre (10:00-12:00)
"Anastasia, Grey y las cincuenta sombras que las encandilan".
IX Jornadas de sensibilización y prevención de la violencia de género. Organiza: Área de la Mujer. Concejalía de Servicios Sociales. Ayuntamiento de las Rozas. Madrid.
Pilar López Díez © 2007