Activists said on Monday that violence against women still dominated reports on women’s issues in the print media and that other angles and themes needed to be explored.
The state-sanctioned National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) said its findings came from a survey of reports on women’s issues published by eight national print media in 2010, including the Jakarta Globe.
The survey showed that from the 1,278 articles on women’s issues covered in those media that year, 82.95 percent were focused on violence against women. The majority of the rest covered gender discrimination, female criminals and morality issues.
Komnas Perempuan’s Andy Yentriyani said at a discussion on Monday that the media should pay more attention to the frequently negative portrayal of women’s morality, even in stories where a woman is the victim of a sexual assault.
“The presumption of innocence is often neglected by the media, especially media reports on pornography, where the moral issue, rather than the sexual violence, is being brought forward,” she said.
TV presenters Cut Tari and Luna Maya both came under intense media scrutiny last year after being implicated in the Nazril “Ariel” Irham sex video scandal. Both women were publicly denounced by some religious groups for immoral behavior.
Komnas Perempuan commissioner Arimbi Heroeputri said that while 83 percent of reports on women’s issues actually met the journalistic code of ethics, including in not naming victims of certain crimes, only half met both the journalistic code of ethics and Komnas Perempuan’s own code of victim’s rights.
Nunung Qomariyah, another commissioner, called on the media to become an agent of change and help spread a better understanding of the issues women face in society.
“The media also has a function to influence, create and change society’s point of view … on women’s issues, to have a better understanding in the society,” Nunung said.
Another commissioner, Neng Dara Affifah, said the press council and other journalistic organizations must closely monitor the implementation of the code of ethics in media reports.
“In order to implement the code of conduct in media reports on violence against women, media workers and women activists need to discuss and establish an appropriate code of conduct,” Neng said.
Neng said that in reporting on violence against women, the presumption of innocence, especially for the victims, should also be respected, especially when concerning a public figure.