Journalists have been urged to be ethical while reporting on gender and children by not publishing stories that put children at risk, protecting their identity by not mentioning both their names or show their faces if they are victims of rape and obtaining consent of the person being interviewed or photographed.
The advice was given during a workshop organised by Plan International Rwanda in partnership with Rwanda Association of Journalists (ARJ), on Friday.
John Butera Mugabe, the Communications and Advocacy Manager of Plan International, cautioned journalists to avoid disclosing too much information about a child, especially in cases that could harm them, for instance; if they are suffering from a strange disease or other personal issues.
“We must consider the appropriateness of the media content and data we use, to ensure we portray subjects with dignity, protect their privacy, and avoid using images that shock or traumatize both the individuals portrayed and audiences,” he said.
Although they are young, Mugabe said that before children are interviewed, journalists should introduce themselves, introduce the equipment they will use for example; the record, or cameras, and let them know that they are being recorded and their information may be used.
He pointed out that for children under nine years, they should be interviewed for 30 minutes, those aged between 10 to 14 for 45 minutes and teens for one hour but while interviewing children the questions must be clear, straight forward, and sit or stand at the same height as the child so that they are not talked down to.
Celine Mahoro Babona, the Gender Advisor at Plan International Rwanda stated that fighting gender inequality is every one’s responsibility; the gender transformation approach is to focus on tackling the root cause of gender inequality and reshaping unequal and power relations to achieve a full understanding of women’s rights and equality between all children, young people, and adults irrespective of gender.
She also said that, this approach aims at improving the conditions of girls and women while highlighting their position and value in society to be able to make knowledgeable choices, decisions and act upon them free from fear or threat of punishment.
One of the causes of gender inequality that was discussed by journalists was teenage pregnancies which was attributed to exposure of children to information and films that are above their age, lack of sex education by parents, girls being lied to by small gifts from men, and much more.
To solve the above problems, Plan International and journalists said that gender stereotype has to be fought, children must be protected from exposure of adult content.