An unnecessary criticism
On Saturday 2 June, 2012, Kaieteur News published a picture on its front page which showed a man beating a woman. This picture was published at a time when the intensity of male violence against women has increased.
Kaieteur News in its editorial of 6 June, 2012 http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2012/06/06/men-beating-women/ said that their intention “was to bring home the seriousness of the disorder: it was not something that we should read about and then mutter “Tsk!Tsk!” Something has to be done.”
Kaieteur News seems not to understand that the objection to the photograph is not because people want to hide from the violence; the violence exists around us. The objection to the photograph is that Kaieteur News has, probably unintentionally, removed more power from the woman to deal with her situation as she chooses. What is worse is that Kaieteur News itself might be guilty of what it accuses others of doing – just observing.
Was a report made to the police? What did the police do? Was the man charged? If not, why not? Guyana’s National Domestic Violence Policy states that “The safety and well being of those who are victims of domestic violence must be the first priority for any response.” Again, has the man been charged? Are the woman and any other vulnerable family members safe?
SASOD’s work with survivors of violence includes a reality that many survivors want to be healed and get over the trauma. Some might not want to go through an unfriendly police and justice system. The organisations in Guyana who have been working on gender-based violence can work with Kaieteur News and other media to show how to help to deal with this problem without causing stigma to any person who might not want their story told.
SASOD agrees with the KN editorial that “Females and males are all equal and must be given the autonomy to make their own decisions.” If KN does not understand that the survivor of the violence must give permission for her story to be told and be able to decide what next steps to make then its editorial standpoint will only seek to reverse what it seems to want to set out to do.
The rights of the survivors are paramount when dealing with gender-based violence or any other kind of violence.
Richard Pitman, Renuka Anandjit, Christel Mittleholzer,
Joel Simpson and Ryon Rawlins for SASOD
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Human Services Ministry was taken to the home with a view to arresting the man; taken there by the Kaieteur News reporter and photographer.