FGM Reporting toolkit for journalists and Editors

Officials from Equality Now, Anti-FGM Board, Kenya, and the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) holding FGM reporting toolkit.

By Collins Orono

The International women’s rights organization Equality Now in collaboration with the Anti-FGM Board, Kenya, and the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), on Friday launched a toolkit to support media professionals in their efforts to report on FGM.

The toolkit aims at improving media reporting on Female Genital Mutilation by giving a wide range of information on FGM including Interviewing minors as well as helping journalists navigate and learn how to report on FGM with accuracy, sensitivity and authority.

When dealing with minors under the age of 18, journalists are recommended to obtain informed consent from a parent or guardian and explain to the child and trusted adult why they would like to feature them, how they would like to use the content, and where it will appear.

The parent, guardian or other responsible adult must be present at all times during the interview and as a journalist never be left alone with a minor.

In stories featuring children, journalists are recommended to avoid giving specific details about location, school or club names, use names of larger towns or counties instead.

Equality Now Director Africa Office, Faiza Mohamed

Equality Now Director Africa Office, Faiza Mohamed, lauded the media for moving the dial in the fight against FGM in Kenya saying that the media was a critical ally to the campaign to end FGM in Kenya. She implored them to play their part in holding the government of Kenya to account on its commitment to end FGM while at the same time amplifying survivor voices through a gender-sensitive lens.

“Responsible reporting can improve public awareness, shift audiences’ perceptions, and promote remedies. The media amplifies the voices for those who would otherwise be silenced, exposes institutional gaps which allow women and girls to be harmed in the name of tradition, and helps them to access the necessary support. However, alongside drawing much needed attention to FGM, media professionals have a responsibility to ensure that their reporting does not expose the vulnerable ones to further harm or risk,” Equality Now Director Africa Office, Faiza Mohamed

The toolkit also recommends that Journalists should ensure that they do not publish any information that would reveal the identity of their interviewees if anonymity is requested. Journalists should always protect their sources and ensure that their safety is upheld and use anonymous names and make sure that private details about their lives are not revealed.

When Interviewing vulnerable adults including persons aged 18 years or over who is in need of assistance due to age, illness or a mental or physical disability, or unable to take care of themselves, or unable to protect themselves against significant harm or exploitation. Don’t have unaccompanied access to vulnerable people. Among other recommendations

AMWIK’s Executive Director Marceline Nyambala added that it was important for Kenya to ensure that no one was left behind in the campaign to end FGM. She challenged the media to ensure that their reports did not alienate or castigate communities where FGM was prevalent as it would lead to the discrimination of these communities.

“With the right information, the right language and proper framing of FGM as a human rights violation, I am certain that we will end FGM. This manual will help us frame FGM as a harmful cultural practice,” AMWIK’s Executive Director Marceline Nyambala

“I believe that this toolkit will be a useful guide to journalists practicing in Kenya and beyond and that it will go a long way in assisting them file their anti FGM reports responsibly and in a manner that helps the public to understand why the country needs to end FGM. Applying the principles of Do No Harm that this toolkit provides, will further go a long way in helping media professionals to be mindful of survivors and to protect them and their families from the re-violation of their rights,” Anti FGM Board Chief Executive Bernadette Loloju.

FGM is a serious human rights violation, rooted in gender inequality, and can cause life-long physical and psychological trauma. It jeopardizes the health, wellbeing, and prosperity of millions of women and girls, and impacts entire communities, hampering the development agenda of nations, especially where prevalence rates are high. It is because of this that ending FGM has been included as a target within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

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