While they are often called upon to highlight the plight of victims of Gender-Based Violence, crusaders often forget that journalists could perhaps be victims themselves.
During a recent training of journalists about the vice, female reporters narrated terrifying stories how they had been subjected to different forms of violence by their male superiors.
Moureen Bitta, a female journalist with Messiah FM Kasese said female journalists have not been spared by the vice either, despite their perceived awareness about their rights.
She recalled one ugly incident while she was hunting for an internship placement in Kampala.
“I was given two options in order to get an internship placement at a certain NGO in Kampala. The first option was to sleep with the Director and option two was to pay UGX500,000. That’s how GBV is close to us even as female journalists,” she said.
John Thawite, another Kasese based reporter added that poor pay especially for female journalists pre-dispose them to abuse and exploitation by male sources in the field.
“Journalists are sent to the field without an agenda, the editors don’t want to assign duties to them. They (female journalists) go where they expect some money,” he revealed.
Bernadette Businge, also a journalist with Kasese Guide Radio justified the need to boost facilitation and equipment of journalists if effective GBV reporting is to be successful.
“Most of the time GBV cases happen in rural areas where it’s hard to reach by journalists if not well facilitated,” she said.
Barbra Kabanyolo, a journalist with Kasese Guide radio credited UMWA for reaching out with a training to them urging that it will help them build self confidence.
“We too (Journalists) suffer from Gender Based Violence and sometimes we cover stories of victims and cry simply because we easily relate to what happens to us at home, with such knowledge we believe the situation shall get better,” she said.
The training brought together more than 30 journalists from Kasese and Bundibugyo districts to be sensitized about the vice, and was conducted by trainers from the m Uganda Media Women’s Association (UMWA) with support from UN Women.
The three days training was part of the four months project aimed at improving the media’s appreciation and responsiveness to Gender Based Violence and it’s coverage.
Meanwhile, Sharon Kabugho, the Kasese district communications officer urged journalists across the country to stick to the ethics of professionalism.
“Kasese is one of the leading districts when it comes to violence against women but the media does not write with facts which denies us as the local government support to fight this vice,” she said.
Margret Ssentamu, the Executive Director UMWA urged trained Journalists to always appreciate the need to pay attention to detail on GBV stories noting that they not only hinder the country’s development but also can lead to loss of life even though it can be avoided through good reporting.
“Reporting on Gender Based Violence isn’t doing anyone a favor; it is our mandate as required by the law and by our natural cause,” she said.
The training was part of a series that will see other journalists in Tororo, Gulu, Kitgum and Kampala be enlightened on the vice as well as how to create debate in the population to fight it.