Seminar calls for portraying women equally and exclusively in media
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KARACHI: There is the need to portray women in media equally and exclusively at par with men so that they can play their due role in national development. The recent slogan ‘Mera Jism Meri Marzi’ was spotlighted wrongly by electronic media as in fact, it was just aimed at saving women from sexual harassment. Electronic media direly needs to train its anchors and reporting staff so that they can highlight women’s issues positively and respectfully.
This was the crux of a seminary entitled Inclusive and Equal Portrayal of Women by the Media, organized by Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) in connection with Media4Women Campaign running from 1st to 15th March in partnership with the Free Press Unlimited.
PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali welcomed the audience for participating in the discussion and said that on the eve of the World Women Day, PPF held the first activity on women safety some days back and today, they were organizing another program to seek inclusive and equal portrayal of women by the media. There are low women in journalism and also in talk shows. These days, countries are monitoring how many women are sources of news. There is a need to promote women in media and portray them positively. He said that women like Mahtab Akbar Rashidi and Tasneem Ahmar, and Aurat Foundation had played a major role in women empowerment and safety, hence, they should follow the suit.
Noted politician and former MPA Mahtab Akbar Rashdi said that electronic media needed to adopt ethics and give respect to women. “It is matter of great concern that these days, people are being disgraced in talk shows of electronic media while assemblies had also become a bad place for disgracing each other. There are no ethics at all at both places. Society should change its mindset that is hitting women hard,” she observed.
Rashdi said: “Women are not weak as being perceived in the society, but the fact is that they are very strong as they can work in sunshine and rainy situations with men. They also jointly work with men in house building and crop fields in many regions. They even break stones during labor works. They have proved themselves in every field, however, there is a need to give them a chance to work and grow.”
She said: “It is matter of concern that little girls are being raped and killed while many women are perished in the name of Karo-Kari.” Rashdi said that women should be given equal rights in every sector of life by changing the negative mindset of narrow-minded people.
Tasneem Ahmar, Executive Director at Uks Research Centre on Women and Media, spotlighted the issue of the slogan “Mera Jism Meri Marzi” recently propagated in the media. She said this slogan was wrongly portrayed by the media and it was totally against the ethics of journalism. These words were actually a big voice against sexual harassment of women. The society and media are misinterpreting these words, so they should study these words positively and avoid propagating in the wrong way. The men-dominant society needs to respect and protect women, she urged.
Amin Yousuf, a PFUJ leader, said that women organizations should work jointly for women protection and rights instead of working separately. “Working jointly will bring good results, he said. Yousuf said that it was observed since March 1 to 12 that separate programs of women organizations were held, which was not a good omen. We should not divide women in groups but instead, work jointly to achieve the desired goals,” he said
He said: “It is unfortunate that no training is imparted to the journalists and anchorpersons in electronic media while there is also no gender policy in these organizations. He urged media organizations to train their staff and devise a gender policy so that women could come forward and play their role exclusively.
Imtiaz Khan Faran, President, Karachi Press Club, said that Pakistan media is still not independent as it is not only nationally but also internationally controlled through a systemic way. Journalists are being forced to stop writing on certain truths in the name of policy and security issues. He said that women should be given their rights as the Islam also supports them for this cause.
Mehnaz Rehman, Resident Director at Aurat Foundation said that her organization was running campaigns for women’s rights. We raise rape issues of girls and women. The media should stop highlighting rape issues with the disgrace of the victims. They need to portray such issues positively and respectfully, she stressed.