×

Report Urges South African Media to ‘Step Up’ Against Gender Violence

DURBAN–In a country with some of the highest rates of sexual and gender-based violence in the world, South African media must step up and play a greater role in the fight against gender inequality and gender-based violence.

That was the conclusion of a report, “Gender, Diversity and Gender-based Violence in South African TV,” that was presented at the Durban FilmMart this week by Kubi Rama of Gender Links, a Southern Africa women’s organization that champions gender quality in and through the media. The report was part of the Step It Up For Gender Equality in Southern Africa media project, which was commissioned in 2018 by the German Development Corporation (GIZ) and UN Women.

“The media landscape in South Africa is still largely unequal when it comes to gender questions,” said Unathi Malunga, of the National Film & Video Foundation (NFVF). “The aim of this project is to support the prevention of violence against women and girls through engaging the South African media to reflect on the media’s role and responsibility in shaping societal norms, in shaping societal stereotypes, and in shaping perceptions of gender-based violence.”

According to the findings of the report, which describes gender-based violence as a “national crisis” in South Africa, gender inequality and gender-based violence as topics constitute just 3% of news, 7% of entertainment and 3% of children’s programming. Women comprise 77% of program creators but just 15% of directors in TV entertainment. And in a largely patriarchal society, according to the report, “gender stereotypes are still prevalent, women’s voices are heard less, and decision-making still lies with men.”

“An industry that is shaped in inequality and incidences of harassment will always struggle to produce creative content that has a positive social impact,” said Malunga. “There is still a lack of awareness and dialogue on gender-based violence. There’s still a lack of legislative frameworks, there’s a lack of legal resource, there’s a lack of prevention mechanisms and where to go to get help, and also rehabilitation.”

According to South Africa’s 2016 Demographic and Health Survey, one in five South African women over the age of 18 has experienced physical violence at least once in her lifetime. An average of 100 rapes are reported daily, and three women die at the hands of their intimate partners every day—a rate that is four times the global average.

Another key finding of the report notes that “news media waits for a violent incident to occur and cover it, rather than to shed light on underlying causes and drivers.” The report suggests an industry-wide focus on “how to improve ways of reporting on preventative interventions and methods.”

Speaking in Durban, Malunga said that the NFVF, as well as government bodies, civil society organizations, broadcasters and NGOs, are all implementing interventions to combat the negative messaging around gender in South African media. Despite their efforts, she said, “there’s still plenty of work to do.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Aracne

    Sanfic Standout ‘Aracne’ Filmmakers Discuss the State of Chilean Genre

    A key project at this year’s Santiago Lab, the Santiago Intl. Film Festival industry forum for promising Latin American projects, Florencia Dupont’s “Aracne” is representative of a push from the next generation of Chilean filmmakers into genre cinema and the themes it can explore. “Aracne” turns on Beatriz, a young journalist at a small Santiago [...]

  • Eduardo Machuca

    Chile’s Eduardo Machuca Unveils Machuca Films Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

    SANTIAGO, Chile – Eduardo Machuca, the former film co-ordinator of Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has launched his own production company, Machuca Films. “After 25 years at the ministry, I felt I needed to tap my creative side,” said Machuca, who is also tying the knot on Saturday (Aug. 25) with a former Sanfic staffer, [...]

  • Robert Downey Jr. Disney Legends Ceremony,

    Robert Downey Jr. Reveals He Was Busted for Smoking Pot at Disneyland

    Robert Downey Jr. celebrated his Disney Legend status by sharing the endearing tale of how the first time he visited Disneyland, he was arrested. The Iron Man actor was being honored in Anaheim at Disney’s biennial D23 convention. After a brief introduction by Disney chief executive officer Bob Iger, Downey felt he had to come [...]

  • Thandie Newton Reminiscence

    Thandie Newton Reteams With 'Westworld's' Lisa Joy on 'Reminiscence' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Following her Emmy win for her performance on “Westworld,” Thandie Newton is joining the feature directorial debut of the show’s co-creator. Sources tell Variety that Newton is set to join Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson in Warner Bros.’ “Reminiscence,” directed by “Westworld’s” Lisa Joy. WB acquired the rights to the package after this year’s Berlin [...]

  • Ming-Na Wen poses at the Disney

    Original 'Mulan' Star Ming-Na Wen Weighs in on Remake's Controversy

    Ming-Na Wen, who played the leading voice role in the original 1998 version of “Mulan,” has spoken out about the recent controversy surrounding Disney’s forthcoming live-action remake, which has been co-opted by China’s authoritarian regime to attack Hong Kong protestors. “We are living in a world right now where there’s so much change and confusion [...]

  • Jon Favreau'The Lion King' film premiere,

    Jon Favreau 'Holding Out Hope' for Spider-Man to Remain in the MCU

    Spider-Man’s potential exit from the Marvel Cinematic Universe could throw a wrench in Happy and Aunt May’s relationship, but Jon Favreau is “optimistic” the love affair will continue amid Sony’s dispute with Disney. “You never know what’s going to happen. I’m holding out hope and being optimistic that this isn’t the final chapter of the [...]

  • Cara Delevingne'Carnival Row' TV show premiere,

    Cara Delevingne Talks Immigration, Taylor Swift's Battle With Scooter Braun

    Cara Delevingne, whose faerie character in “Carnival Row” finds herself washed ashore as a refugee in a foreign land, said she was immediately drawn by the show’s fantastical take on issues of immigration and assimilation. “It’s a cause that I have been involved in for a long time,” Delevingne told Variety at the premiere of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content