This holiday Monday, aside from sleeping (my favorite hobby), I accepted an invitation to the panel discussion ‘Key communication tools to fight gender violence’. The idea came up, spontaneously, in a group chat of journalists of which I am a member. In the chat, both men and women were exposing, in an informal way, our point of view regarding the topic.
The chat administrator, Chechy Rosado, who, in addition to being a psychologist and public relations specialist, is the director of the Escuela Superior de Arte y Desarrollo Humano, ESADH, wanted to give this WhatsApp chat formality and managed to bring together four extraordinary speakers to illustrate and discuss the problem that not only affects women but also men and a society that still confuses and misunderstands concepts.
The speakers were: lawyer and journalist, Rafael Guerra; psychologist, defender of women’s rights, member of the social movement and national oversight women’s entity, Elena Bustos; lawyer, social worker and professor at the Universidad Simón Bolívar, Emma Doris López; and professor of the Social Communication Department at the Universidad del Norte, Jair Vega Casanova.
Vega began the discussion by explaining how to prevent gender-based violence through journalistic coverage. “The framing of the information; that is, the approach given to the news. This issue is very delicate because not understanding the gender approach and the types of gender-based violence can exalt violent behaviors that justify the perpetrator and devalue women, blaming them and revictimizing them”, he explained.
He stressed the importance of when seeing a woman, we must be careful to not make reference to her physical attributes or marital status if it is not necessary. We should ask ourselves if we would take this information into account if we were talking about a man. It is not convenient to show women exclusively in stereotypically “feminine” situations (family care, aesthetics and beauty, etc.); and if necessary, we should also show the other roles that women assume in society.
Regarding the crimes, in a case of gender-based violence, it is important to name it for what it is, whatever the type of violence may be. For example, “Passional crime: he kills his ex-wife for flirting with a stranger” should be called femicide, since no passion justifies a homicide.
Elena Bustos stated that “gender vision implies opening up to a complete way of seeing the world and recognizing human beings through conceptions of equality, freedom, dignity and solidarity, overcoming many archaic cultural learnings, inherited from an ancestrally patriarchal and unequal society”.
Bustos emphasized that gender vision is like “glasses” to see the life that awakens you to accept everyone’s complexity and individuality, without falling into prejudices, preconceptions and stereotypes because of them being a man or a woman.
The psychologist concludes that a balance must be struck between the desire for a scoop or news impact and the in-depth coverage of the facts and their impact on the victim. Showing the cases of violence against women as isolated or exceptional situations limits their understanding, therefore it must be avoided. This is more common and frequent than is believed and is associated with traditional patriarchal structures.
Lawyer Guerra clarified legal concepts such as femicide: “In Colombia, femicide was typified as an autonomous crime by Law 1761 of 2015, which defines it as the murder of a woman because of her status as a woman or for reasons related to her gender identity”.
He also mentioned the aggravating factors when the crime occurs against a woman under 18 years of age, in condition of physical and/or sensory disability, among others. And he expressed that, many times, the sources consulted are not clear with the concepts; so the duty of the journalist is to investigate and not to stay with the information of the press bulletin or the communiqué.
In her speech, Emma Doris López highlighted today, after many struggles as a lawyer and teacher, the importance and role of journalists when they use a language with a gender vision when writing news, or when broadcasting through the media information with objectivity and accuracy.
“Thanks to this work there is a network of Latin American journalists with a gender focus; the goal is to work from social networks, from the media and from the academia creating awareness in society with a gender vision”, said Lopez, general director of the Teknos- Sustainable Development Foundation.
Regarding gender violence in the country, the Observatorio Feminicidios Colombia reported that in 2021 there were 662 cases, of which 38 occurred in Atlántico. And up to May 17 of this year the indicator showed 160 national cases, 25 of them in the Department.
Traducción del español: Catalina Oviedo Brugés