By Cecilia Ijuo
Media practitioners have been advised to always acquaint themselves with the professional ethics in the reportage of sexual and gender-based violence among minors and other victims.
Mr Joseph Roberts-Mensah, Africa Director, Wayamo Foundation, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) on Sunday, in Abuja.
Roberts-Mensah said it had become necessary to remind journalists of steps to take in reporting cases of sexual violence, to avoid inflicting more pain on victims, while discouraging them from opening-up.
“When you come across a journalist, who is trying to understand the trauma that the victim is going through, it allows the victim to open up and discuss things with you.
“You have to get a clear understanding of the context, the impact of what has happened to any victim before you interview the victim.
“If you do not do that, then you do not understand what they are going through and most times the problem we have is that by our language, we become unsympathetic,” he said.
Mensah said that the best thing to do while reporting such cases was to learn more about the impact of what had happened.
He noted that it was important to know the reasons why it happened, to be able to tell the story in a way that would be balanced.
He stressed that journalists needed to be more careful when reporting on minors, who in most cases are school children or students.
“With an adult they are perhaps more mature to handle the situation they have gone through, but it is not the same for minors.
“They react in so many ways depending on age.
“You find out about their ordeal from an intermediary like their parents, teachers or witnesses, who can speak for them or set it in a proper context.
“It is good to ask psychologists how far you can go with a minor in talking about these things,” he said.
He said that a journalist’s story should not make victims or survivors feel worse than they were before the incident happened.
He added that it was critical to understand the psychological impact and trauma of what had happened, saying it would go a long way in providing useful information that could lead to the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators.
“You can write the story even when the perpetrator or perpetrators are at large.
“If the appropriate authority is aware that these stories are going on, they will act on them.
“Your job is to make awareness available. Sometimes you do not expect the authorities to know everything always.
“Sometimes it is for us as journalists to provide that information,” he added. (NAN)