WOMEN MEDIA ADVOCACY: SEEKING ALLIES TO END

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Introduction

Indonesia turnouttransition into democracy since 1998 was not possible without media participation. After May riot, media began to pay more attention on violence against women (VAW). There were arround 400 death casualties resulting from the may riot throughout the country . There were evidence of violence against women had occurred during the riot, women being raped. theese facts of violence against women had attracted media for first time. Almost every day in a month, newspaper wrote incessantly about it. Although sometimes many women activist were annoyed by insensitive journalist who doubted about the rape, and kept questioning the number of victims, it was the media role to bring violence against women into matter in social-political discourse. Media attention then had attracted attention from international community as well as government. President Habibie paid great concern and agreed to meet with anti violence community in the presidential palace. It was after the meeting with the anti violence activist, mostly women, that President B.J Habibie issued President Decree No. to form National Commission of Anti Violence Against Women.

Currently media in Indonesia have the privilege to embrace freedom of the press, violence against women is no longer an “odd issue”, currently there is the Law of the Elimination of Domestic Violence No.39/ 2004, and before that Indonesia had ratified Convention on Elimination of all Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW by Law No.7/1984). Women’s Empowerment Minister have had promotion ad in television, and electronic and printed media continuously to cover women’s activist events. On the contrary VAW still blatantly reproduced by media through stories and news. VAW were shown in cinema electronic (TV soap opera, and criminal news presentation); broadcast in TV news; stories in printed media of which women victims of VAW were treaded as if there were merely passive victims. In this context, eventhough the law and regulation concerning violence against women have already existed, somehow media seldom use it as references or to take an active part in their role in eliminating violence against women.

As indicated by those conditions, my questions are: what is the difference between 1998 and now in the context of media attention towards the issue of violence against women, on sensitivity and discrimination or sexism; is there any strategy for women media advocacy to endorse media to be more gender sensitive. The objective is hoping to find a strategy or a new strategy for women to advocatete violence against women in media, as a way to encourage both women’s movement and media actors to build good relation.

Eight years after National Women Commission has been established, democratization of press freedom has provided a wider space for media to publish. More and more electronic media and print media were published. There are seven Indonesian national televisions stations in eight years, and dozens of national newspapers have been published. To see how effective media advocacy conducted by women’s organization, frequency on how many violence against women issues is covered by media, on how those media news coverage are related to women’s organization approach to and by media.

In Indonesia there are two type of printed media (daily newspaper), one is yellow newspaper and the other is politics newspaper. Within this range of research I would focus on national newspaper, particulary on Kompas and Wartakota on how they brought news coverage about violence against women in their newspages. In yellow newspaper, where the headline mostly is criminal news, VAW is presented by masculine perspectives, where their language for title news is very provocative, and the story is somehow very sexist. For Kompas the news coverage of VAW case was very limited and somehow have a certain criteria form category to be in the news was somehow have to be more eloquently clever and heavy issue. This is similar with Women National Commission which most of their press release that have been published were about national policy concerning women violence, seldom about certain VAW issues. That showed from their press release from 2005-2007, with frenquency of press releases was less than 20.

Violence Against Women and News in The Media 2005-2007

from the year of 2005 to 2007 VAW increased, almost everyday criminal newspaper had a news on VAW. Not every news was related with women’s organization. Most of them were merely news, with information about the case twhich was being processed by police right after the case had happened.

Data from 2005 showed that there were 20.139 VAW cases from 29 provinces which were handled by 215 organizations. This data represent an increase of 45% compare with the year of 2004[1]. It might be the effect of The Law of Elimination Domestic Violence, of which more cases were reported and more victims sought help. The indication of the increasing VAW cases which were reported to LBH APIK(Women Legal Aid) in 2005 and victims reported or asked for service to LBH APIK declined in the year of 2006. While according to data from Attorney General, the cases of VAW was the most frequent violence cases occuring in 2006.

The data compilation on frequency of VAW year by year that has been presented in newspaper is hard to find, but one women organization, the Women Legal Aid have tried to compile it from criminal media Warta Kota, and from a daily newspaper Kompas. The information and data from newspaper were different from the cases handled by women’s organization, this was due to the case stories in the news were influence by what had happened in location or place of accident. Sometimes it was transcribed from the story of victim and the family whom seeking help from women’s organization or the police, while in police station, where journalist usually stationed, the stories can be brought to editor desk right as quicky as possible.

The news on VAW in term of cases did not decrease in the criminal media, but in Kompas it did not increase either. But Kompas has been one of the example on how the role of the media can be maximized to counter stereotype news in other media about VAW. In March 2005 Wartakota newscoverage of 27 VAW, 8 was rape news. At the same time Kompas only have 1 news on rape. Most of the news of VAW in Wartakota had no relation with any information and comment from Women’s organization.

Most of VAW newscoverage in printed media have showed discrimination against the victims/survivors, especially in criminal media as Wartakota. The title of the news tended to degrade the identity of the victims in relation with age, status of the victims, and ‘label’ or physical perfomance, such as “Anak Kelas 6 SD Cabuli bocah tujuh tahun” (6 grade elementary student sexually harassed seven years old kid), and “ Perampok Perkosa Nenek-nenek” (A robber rape granny”). Besides the chosen discriminatory words by media, most of the news were presented in perspective of the perpetrator. The worse was the newscoverage sometimes told a story on how it happened as fact it happened according to the perpetrator. And if VAW of rape was written in the media, it was almost cannot unavoidable that the victim will be raped again by the media.

Reading VAW in newspaper in 2007 was no different from eight years ago when the Women National Commission was established.While there was certain progress in term of the introduction of the issue of VAW, the endorsement of issue and how the issue became mainstream. In the early 1990s issue of women migrant worker did not became part of national issue, now this issue is of nation wide concern, attracting the attention from the President and Minister of Foreign Affair, at this moment Domestic Violence issue has also become part of Government National Campaign by Women Empowerment Minister, also many media have brought the issue in their content including media entertainment in sinetron (Indonesia soup opera). Somehow news of VAW in the media coverage seldom mention The of Elimination of Domestic Violence No.39/ 2004 in their newscoverage. This was because the news making process took place soon after what has transpired in society. If the news were presented as a story mostly about legal matters that it would meant the story used police as the source. Most of the time the police did not mention about Domestic Violence Law instead they talked about the violation of article of the Criminal Code. It is because until now, journalist are paid to keep within the narrow bounds of accepted news sources and value. Most tend to agree with the politics of their paper.[2]

Women Media Advocacy to End Violence Against Women

There are certain activities in the women organization that I might categorize as media advocacy internal and external. Internal media advoacy is how women’s organization create and use their media to publish and disseminate their issue of VAW. And external media advocacy is how women organization use other media to publish and disseminate and campaign and publish the VAW issue. Within this paper, the main focus is external media advocacy. External media advocacy which commonly done by women organization are through activity of press conference and publishing the press release. And other media advocacy is through direct contact, of formal and informal relation by women organization with media person or institution. To know whether media advocacy is part of women organization program or not? Than to measure how media’s role is being acknowledged.

Women organization is aware of how media have their place in campaign for socialization, diseminate issue and create society awareness. This can be seen when women organization need to broadcast and spread the information on certain issue. Most issue brought by women organization are either women’s right issues that neeeded to be endorsed, legitimized and implemented. But women organizations are aware that there is fifty-fifty chance to be part of mainstream media news coverage, unless the content of the issue is provocative enough or hot enough, after all women do not have the control or have little access to media making process.[3] And it was not surprising that most media ownership are dominated by male and owned by giant corporation.

Women have achieved progress in context of media on their side when Kompas, a major leading national Indonesia newspaper gave 1 page weekly of women’s gender perspective. We do not know how it starts but it is one of day where women organization would look for whether their activities and endorsement issue is covered. As for Kompas criminal news of VAW there was very limited news coverage in comparision to Warta Kota newscoverage. Somehow it was not enough to balance news for VAW, because Kompas newscoverage of criminal of VAW was not publish weekly nor in women’s page. The need for Kompas to cover criminal news of VAW is needed to counter what have been published in Warta Kota or other media at the same VAW stories.[4] The reason for this was the way Kompas wrote about VAW case which was different than Warta Kota or any other criminal media. Kompas gender perspective in newscoverage of VAW is one that cannot be seen in other media. But it does not mean Kompas is better than other media in gender’s perspective of politics, economy newscoverage.[5] And Kompas has been very selective in publishing the VAW story. That policy probably part of its image as intelectual and middle class newspaper. Somehow Kompas have the ability to brought VAW issue into national concern. As Kompas have shown by continuity of its publishing on migrant worker issue in 2007. In the year of 2007, there was a horrible accident happened, a migrant worker, Ceriyati a housekeeper who worked in Malaysia tried to escape from her allegedly abusive employer by tying sheets and clothes into a rope, and was trying to jump from the 15th floor of the apartment. Kompas had published it as the feature story and analyzed about migrant worker from June to December 2007.

Most Indonesian established women organization, have their annual meeting to prepare their works for the following year, they called it National Meeting or Strategic Planning. During this meeting the plan of programs and activities are articulated and put into plan of action. Program of media usually part of Publication Division or Documentation division, it includes both internal and external media.

To find out on how women organization reach out to the media (external media) in supporting their campaign plan, is not only can be known through the strategic plan, but through frequency of aprroach towards the media i.e frequency of press conference and press release published. And how many direct contact of formal and informal relation with the media person.

From the research i had been conducting at a limited time, it does not provide substantive information about how effective women’s media advocacy through press conference than to direct connection with media person. LBH APIK have been one of the women organization who have had their effort in maintaining the media relation. And LBH APIK have in their program of reaching out to media through press conference, and press realease. They have minimum two times press release to be published in a year, and two times of press conference. And LBH APIK have conducted media advocacy by visiting media and have held a meeting with media person (editor) to discuss certain bill. LBH APIK have succefully maintain personal contact with media person.

Currently there is still few women organization news or concern that meet with the news brought by criminal media. So seldom, that according to Umi Farida from Women Legal Aid, Kompas need to publish minimum 3 times of VAW news in effort to counter what have been publish in criminal media. To conclude this unfinished research, there are two suggestions by media person and by women in organization, that women organization should be more aware of how important to have relation with media in eliminating VAW. And how to establish connection with media person, and if possible to have relation with the chief of media or the editors.

Umi Lasminah @2008


[1] Komnas Perempuan

[2] Davies, Kate, Dickey and Terese Stratford ed. Out of Focus Writing on Women and Media.., London: The Women Press.1987. p.9

[3] Davidson Tina, ed. “Sugar and Spice how the media stereotype children”., in Out of Focus Writing on Women and Media ed.Davies, Kate, Dickey and Terese Stratford., London: The Women Press.1987., p.15

[4] Umi Farida, Cordinator of Media and Publication, Women Legal Aid, in interview October 2008.

[5] Lasmina, Umi. , Indonesia History of Women in Government Limited Media Coverage on Women, Women’s World 2005, Korea

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