Undesirable remarks against women -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Undesirable remarks against women

KARACHI – The print media must avoid using objectionable language against women and in this connection a ‘Code of Ethics’ was presented to the print media demanding from the editors, owners, and the desks that rather than using unpalatable remarks, issues should be highlighted positively.

This code of ethics was submitted at a discussion on women’s issues and media held at a local hotel here on June 16 on behalf of the UKS, Research, Resource and Publication Centre on Women and Media, an Islamabad-based NGO run by Tasneem Ahmer. Those present on the occasion were Musarrat Jabeen, Najma Sadique, Shagufta Jabeen, and Prof Tauseef Ahmed Khan.

In a one-on-one discussion with the media and other NGOs, UKS, invited suggestions as to how women should or should not be portrayed. In this regard Najma Sadique of Shirkatgah opined that women’s issues be projected in a positive manner. News reports, she said, were based on mere assumptions.

It was also suggested that a joint move from the NGO-journalists should be taken to condemn any inadmissible remarks against women. It was also further notified that advertisements regarding quacks and spiritual healers, must not be published. Rather the practice should be condemned. These Ads indirectly signal violence and sexual aggression but also portray a false image of masculinity, equating it with physical prowess. In this connection, a meeting with the APNS and CPNE consultative meetings would be conducted.

In-depth study conducted by the UKS showed the domineering role of the police in crime reporting whereby they filed cases and FIRs on their whims incorporating anti-women bias and undesirable language.

These reports are then reproduced verbatim by the newspaper reporters. Most crime reporters, who are marginally literate and poorly paid, entirely rely on reports given out by the police, which at times are highly sensational in content and language.

It was, however, also told that Karachi-based newspaper had a general understanding of gender issues and consequently didn’t need the regulation of code of ethics.

It was also implied that news published by the newspaper should be carved by the NGOs with alternative language and be distributed to the newspapers as a role model and newspaper should follow the pattern avoiding derogatory remarks.

Tauseef Ahmed Khan assistant professor Federal Urdu University said that main objective of newspaper is “right to inform’ and every reader has the right to condemned the newspaper industries which instead giving information to the reader focussing on the advertisements. Najma Sadique adding said that reasonable proportion of text and advertisement should be formulated, 25% ads and 75% news should be published.

It was also said that whole list of gender insensitive vocabulary like ‘kunwari maan’ khoobsoorat dosheza etc should be replaced with an alternative gender sensitive vocabulary. In this connection a list of derogatory language should be provided to the newspaper so that these objectionable words should not be repeated. It was maintained that consultative meetings with the desk people should also be held and training to be provided to them.

Short term as well as long term goals need to be outlined for achieving gender equilibrium in the newspaper work place. As a short term goal, newspaper owners/editors should be urged to include 1/3rd women in their offices. Women journalists should be made to cover a variety of issues and not merely be relegated for covering the women issues.

Work environment of newspaper offices needs to be made conducive for women journalists. In this regard there is a need to strictly implement a sexual harassment code in all newspapers.
Source: The News
Date:6/17/2004