The media has been urged to play active role in combating gender related hate speech though objective and conflict sensitive reporting.
The call was made at a media roundtable organised by the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos recently.
Themed ‘The role of the media in combating gender related hate speech online through objective and conflict sensitive reporting,’ the roundtable featured online journalists and bloggers.
Facilitators took turn to engage participants on the sensitive nature of online reporting and use of the new media.
In his remark, Director of the IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, pointed the attention of participants to a research by Amnesty International that revealed the alarming impact that abuse and harassment on social media are having on women.
Arogundade also noted that women around the world are reporting stress, anxiety or panic attacks as a result of harmful online experiences which factors are reducing the already limited spaces women have in politics.
Executive Director, Humanity Family Foundation For Peace and Development (HUFFPED), Mr. Henry Adenugba at the event expressed worry about how online space has accommodated a lot of hate speech especially against women.
“Not only does it undermine the freedom of speech of women but its psychological, emotional and physical impacts are severe and real,” he said.
Managing Editor Online, the Nation newspaper, Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin in his presentation said hate speech is a crime and journalists must beware so they don’t fall into the trap.
“Hate speech is a crime and we have laws to handle these issues. We need to test some of these laws,” he said.
Continuing on how to combat hate speech, Otufodunrin said, “The media must fully understand what hate speech is all about, and it must avoid indulging in it, we must get familiar with what hate speech is.”
He also warned online journalists and bloggers to beware of what they post on social media.
“Be careful of what you post online. For journalists who are bloggers, they know there is a code of ethics. A journalist should refrain from publishing inaccurate and misleading information. And when such information gets published, it should be corrected promptly,” he advised.
Otufodunrin also advised journalists to join the campaign against gender based hate speech.
While the nation approaches the 2019 general election, it is observed that women in politics often get discouraged by gender based hate speeches.
Otufodunrin enjoined the public to give qualified women the chance to participate actively in politics and seek elective positions.
“Aspiring women politicians who are also qualified should be supported. They should not be disqualified based on their gender. If at all they have to be disqualified, it should be based on the fact that they are not qualified,” he pleaded.
In her own presentation, Mrs. Yinka Shokunbi engaged participants on their methods of reporting women.
According to Shokunbi, the narrative about women have been changing since the Beijing conference of 1995.
“In any society, women represent poverty. Even in the church we talk about the ‘widow’s mite,’ this means women give their all,” she said.
In addition, Shokunbi, Editor, Health Style Plus Online
told the participants that, “Women have been seen as the face of poverty in the society and people need to know the new narratives.
“Meanwhile most of those practicing journalism online are not journalists and these people do not know any better not to mention representing women in the right way,” she said.
She however tasked the nation to give women the needed chances and create empowerment for women to take their rightful position.
Querying the Nigerian leaders, Shokubi asked if anybody is empowering women other than making them campaign tools.
“Are they empowering women to have skills? Or were they only making money available to buy clothes for them during campaigns?” She asked.
She however appreciated the women empowering their fellow women in the society.
“People like Mrs. Adedoyin the owner of Women FM, she has been supporting and helping women willing to come out to participate in politics.
“Give us the same opportunity and see if women will not advance,” she argued.
Shokunbi also noted that women are the ones bearing the brunt of the problems they did not create in the society.
“Women suffer a lot of the societal problems. Unresolved conflicts were caused by men and these problems make women and their children end up on the IDP camps.
“Do we report what brought them to the IDP camps? Yet women who gave themselves up for food to survive with their children would still be stereotyped. Women need to take and find a common ground to change the narratives,” she advised.
Sokunbi also tasked women in power to provide support for fellow women.
“Women in power should come together to proffer solutions to some of the issues militating against the women folks. “What are we imparting on our children to be able to change things positively when they eventually get to position of authority? She queried.