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UNFPA Tasks Journalists on Gender Based Violence Reporting

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Godsgift Onyedinefu

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has trained health journalists on identifying and reporting on Gender Based Violence (GBV) and other harmful practices such as early marriage and female genital mutilation. 

Erika Goldson, the Fund’s Deputy Country Representative in Nigeria, while giving an address at the two-day media training in Abuja, explained that the rationale for the training is to acquaint journalists with basic ethical and safety principles for reporting GBV.

She added that aim was to train journalists on prioritising survivors’ rights to dignity, privacy, confidentiality, safety, security and protection from harm or retribution when reporting.

Goldson noted that the failure to adhere to the principles will put women and girls, their families and care providers at risk 

“This makes it expedient for journalists to be trained on the urgent need to prioritize these ethical and safety considerations that preserve the safety, confidentiality and dignity of GBV survivors, their families, their communities, and those who are trying to help them, when they compile the media reports”, she said.

Goldson disclosed that COVID-19 has increased the GBV and harmful practices in our society, while also decrying that numerous reports by conventional and citizen journalists have labelled GBV the silent pandemic and it is competing for news spaces alongside reports on COVID-19.

She said the media is pivotal in facilitating responsive reporting and ensure that the high-level awareness events are reported widely for impact.

Goldson added that the media reporting on sexual and other forms of gender-based violence facilitates greater advocacy with stakeholders such as decision makers and communities to ensure protection of survivors and those that are at risk of GBV.

Mr. Senator Iroegbu, the workshop Facilitator and Publisher, Global Sentinel, during his presentation on “How to Write Good Reports and knowing the Dos and Don’ts in Writing”, trained journalists on the skills required to deliver a good, compelling and comprehensive report especially on GBV and other forms of violence.

He also highlighted ways in which reporters can improve their writing skills and the steps in news and feature writing.

Iroegbu however advised journalists to avoid redundancy, repetitions, use of passive and ambiguous sentences, which he noted could impede meaning.

Mr Dashe Dasogot, the UNFPA M&E Specialist, who spoke on “How to Use Data in Reporting”, encouraged the use of official government accepted data to buttress a point in a story.

He identified sources of data, collected and analysed by government to include the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) conducted by the National Population Commission (NPC) in 2018, and the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), which could be accessed on the platform of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

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Other sources, he said, were reports and documents on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS at the state level, noting that “using data from such sources gives credence to your reports because they are official and acceptable by policy makers.

“So, do not just write narratives; use figures to show trends of events, compare variations to give your copies authenticity.”

Other presentations at the training included an overview of UNFPA transformational goals, Female Genital Mutilation Issues and Reportage, as well as GBV and the UN Basket Fund Response.

The journalists, drawn from different government and private media organisations, also brainstormed on how to write good human angle stories on GBV, COVID-19 pandemic and other health issues. 

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