By Bounfaeng Phaymanivong
March 18, 2013
This was the message from UNFPA Deputy Representative Ms Rizvina De Alwis when opening a day-long training session in Vientiane on Friday for 28 journalists. The reporters will use the information gained to write articles about the importance of ending violence against women and girls in Laos.
“As a member of the global community, the media plays a key role in stopping, preventing and ending all forms of violence against women and girls by publishing articles relating to solutions, protection and the end of violence,” she said.
Domestic violence is a common occurrence in rural Laos because of poor access to justice for women in ethnic communities, and an absence of data and information on the incidence of violence and on the availability of services for survivors, Ms Alwis said.
She said media personnel can play a part in keeping women and girls safe and sensitively reporting on cases of violence.
“We hope this training session will have a positive impact on the lives of women and girls in Laos and that journalists in Vientiane can learn about various writing styles concerning these sensitive cases,” she said.
One participant, Mr Kongkeo Syviengkham, a reporter from TV Lao, said he hoped to gain a lot of information for use in his articles, and learn how best to spread the message to other community members.
“It’s a great chance for all participants to learn from an experienced trainer who has a lot of experience about how to write sensitive articles. I will use what I learn to improve the quality of my work,” Mr Kongkeo said.
He said violence against women and girls is well hidden in Lao society and people tend to overlook the matter so that it is not discussed. But this means nothing is done to address the problem.
“It is now time for the media to spread information about this issue so that we can encourage people to learn how to protect themselves from violence and harassment. But the media alone cannot bring an end to violence; we need supportive action from all government bodies and UN agencies,” he added.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day on March 8 was “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women”.
International Women’s Day coincided with a meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women which addressed the issue of violence against women, and took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.