Christy Simon: Mediated Rights: Media, Women and Human Rights in India

 

Prabash.J. “Mediated Rights: Media, Women and Human Rights in India” JSTOR LXVI.1 (2015). Online

Media is a tool to acquire freedom for the society and should maintain a prophetic adhearence to the democratic norms and values. However, in actual practice,  the relationship between the media and the society is not unilateral. This is more so in the case of protecting the human rights of marginalized sections of society like women.

  • Output of media is largely shaped by the combination of ideological, economic and cultural influences. It transmits only those set of values that corresponds to the interest of a power system
  • Class predilection and patriarchal inclination  destorys its potential to influence the social reality. The powerful controls the media forcing them to produce stories in favour of their developement.
  • It is true that there had been occasional bouts of media activism on key gender issues, but they were episodical and had little consistency of concern. The marginalised humanity especially women finds a place in the media only when human tragedies, ethnic conflicts, disasters.
  • Women hardly exists as a public phenomenon and their existence is unnoticed – a phenomenon which is described a s symbolic anhilation by Gaye Tuchman.
  • Even if there issues are presented , questions and investigations regarding the structures that have produced the opressive conditons are left unquestioned. For instance , reportage of  honour killing that we come across in the newspapers.  At the sametime broadcasting medias pay less attention to these matters. And it is impossible to find a follow up story of these  issues in the newspaper .
  • Also another instance is the jisha murder case that has happened recently in Kerala. There was a deliberate action from the part of  various governmental and non-governmental agencies  to convert the murder into a suicide. And it took almost one week for the medias to take note of the event and the news. The news that initially came out with few surface level facts in the corner of the news paper  later changed into a senstaional account mainly because she was  a Dalit. These suggest how marginalized and woemn section of the society are pitted gainst the agencies ,caste and culture which represent patriarchy in an institutionalized form.
  • The images of women constructed in the medias always stands in relation to men , often as playthings.Interest on woemn issues are lexical and sometimes they are often pertained to the upperclass. The patriarchal nature of socialisation force women to see women in subordinte gender roles.

Limitations

In the essay the author mentions  about “the entire marginal humanity” but does not try to elaborate on it. Some of the examples that show media as the mirror of the dominant sections of society are issues of human right viloation of  tribal communities,  Rohith Vemula issue which was spotted by the media only after the release of his suicide letter, various scam issues, farmer suicide problems  etc.

Also we need to consider how women are represented and seen in social medias which constitutes a mjor role in todays media.

Role of the women’s movement, visibility of women in the journalistic profession and the news value of the issues involved are also matters that has to be considered in this scenario.

The essay says that it is the powerlessness of the women  that has made her to remain outside this social strata and this is seen as the greatest challenge to women and feminist movement. These statement seems to reinforce the stereotypes and limit women to the role of care giver and nurture.

Laura Mulveys says  “Traditionally , the women displayed has functioned on two levels- as erotic object for the characters within the screen story and as erotic object for the spectators within the auditorium.” The relation between media and women has  to be  analyzed from this perspective along with the power relations that guides media and its functioning.

 

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