While media has played a critical role in highlighting the plight of survivors, awareness raising and advocacy for the prosecution of SGBV cases, there are still many gaps that must be addressed for the media to effectively report SGBV cases without further marginalization of survivors, trivializing of SGBV and undermining investigation as well as prosecution of SGBV cases.
Cognizant of the critical role of media in the campaign to end SGBV, Akina Mama wa Afrika on behalf of the ICGLR Civil Society Forum with support from Amplify Change trained 20 Media representatives from Uganda and Central African Republic respectively. The trainings were aimed at equipping different media houses in Uganda and Central African Republic with the knowledge and skills to effectively document and report SGBV cases.
The trainings largely focused on ensuring that Media representatives fully appreciate the Kampala Declaration on SGBV and how they can use this framework while reporting on SGBV cases, appreciation of gender concepts, analysis of power dynamics between women and men, promotion of gender sensitive reporting and effective coordination with the different stakeholders while handling SGBV cases.
Proceedings of the trainings particularly in Uganda revealed challenges media houses face from time to time as they report on SGBV cases. These included bureaucracy from law enforcement agencies especially the police, concealment of information by the survivors and competing interests by the media houses.
“You could be conducting an investigative story into an SGBV case but it is often difficult to get information from law enforcement agencies they keep referring you to different offers, this derails the process of developing the story and you end up losing interest if you are not patient" Participant.
A few Police officers who were also part of the media training in Uganda cited challenges they face with Media especially when SGBV cases are still under investigation. The Officers cited the lack of professionalism from Media in handling and reporting SGBV cases which often jeopardizes efforts to prosecute the offenders, conspiracy between survivors and the perpetrators family/relatives, bribery, lack of financial support to facilitate the gender desks were among the various challenges cited.
The aforementioned challenges were further re-affirmed during the participant’s field visits to two police stations in Uganda (Wandegeya and Kawempe Police station). While the establishment of gender desks were among the commitments Governments of the Great Lakes Region made in the Kampala Declaration on SGBV the gender desks that were visited cited lack of financial facilitation an aspect that hinders their effective functionality.
At the end of the trainings the participants were not only equipped with skills for effective SGBV reporting and monitoring they were also inspired to take action. Participants committed to document more stories on SGBV, disseminate their learning from the training to other media personnel and/institution while others promised to set up radio programmes on SGBV.
A key learning for many at the training in Uganda was the delicate balance to effectively document and report SGBV cases while creating a win-win situation for all parties involved in SGBV cases if we are to ensure that protection of the survivors and successful prosecution of SGBV cases.