Saturday, April 27, 2013

The dissemination of relevant news for reducing violence against women

If one looks at the print and visual media, one is left depressed with the number of incidents on women related violence and rape. This leaves one to question whether the key role of the media of dissemination of information is not being done properly or whether the message is not being understood by the people. There seems to be a gap in reporting and the change which is intended to happen.

The spate of reported incidents suggests many things. It could be that the news is not reaching everyone. Therefore new rules with regard to safeguarding the rights of women have not been distributed to every nook and corner of the country. It could also be that the news has been disseminated but not understood. This means that the urgency and importance of new legislation has not percolated down to the consciousness of people. It could also mean that the entire essence of new legislation, concern for the rights of women and the changing times have not been reported enough. Along with this it could also mean that the usual arrogance that this is only a law and therefore will only be on paper may also be a reason of it not being taken seriously enough.

Somehow somewhere there is a disconnect and a suspicion of a breaking of the link which attaches the legislature and the people of the country. I am reminded of the way sms’s have been used to instil fear in the minds of people. Entire communities took mischievous sms’s seriously and it even lead to massive movements outside a specific territory fearing some kind of back lash or rioting. A few sms’s created fear and a phobia in the minds of entire communities which even lead to the limiting of sms’s for a day. One must say that mobile phone dissemination of news may be more effective than print or visual media distribution of news.

Mobile phone sms messages are quite effective in reaching out to various kinds and groups of people. Religious messages, jokes, quotes and all sorts of messages are sent to various people. This brings about some kind of good effect on those who are reading it. Mobile phone technology and gadgets have also managed to become very popular with various kinds of people. This should be the opportunity made use of during these times.

The government, NGO’s, religious institutions and mobile service companies can get together to distribute sms’s in various languages about the new rules and legislation about violence against women. A concerted and every day attempt at this would send the message across to a large number of people belonging to various age groups, gender and communities. This need not be a political initiative but an initiative by everyone together. Such an initiative may bring about a wider consciousness on several levels on the rights of women, and on how men should conduct themselves within the parameters of the law. Till then despite what has happened in December and the aftermath of it, cases may still rise further and be reported more, making one wonder whether any change has happened in the country despite repeated discussions and decisions in the parliament, in civil society and various forms of the media.