Bangladesh Nari Pragati Sangha (BNPS) expressed grave concern over the prevailing culture of character assassination of women and their family members in media, especially in connection with the recent death of a college girl at a Gulshan apartment.
According to BNPS, such propaganda in the media is intended to divert the facts by covering up the influential persons involved in the crime, which can hinder proper investigation and delivery of justice.
The culture of character assassination of women was largely present in the media until the first half of the nineties, mentioned a press statement signed by BNPS's executive director Rokeya Kabir.
With a few exceptions, in almost all cases, pictures and detailed family identities of victims of rape and torture were published, while the pictures of rapists or torturers were not printed, and even their [perpetrators] names were concealed carefully, it read.
BNPS along with many organisations working for gender equality conducted different training programmes to sensitise journalists, which brought a visible change in the media in terms of reporting gender-based violence.
However, with the death of the college girl at Gulshan, some media outlets influenced by the key accused in the case, became quick to discredit the victim and her family members, it said.
According to BNPS, whenever the perpetrator or accused is an influential person, some media outlets try to protect him, and as part of this, they try to divert the investigation by spreading stories on the character of the victims.
Such practice creates a strong public opinion against the victims and women in the society, which not only harms the victims and their family but also affects the wider society, and even provokes further violence against women and girls, read the statement.
BNPS informed the media that no matter the identity, lifestyle or occupation of a victim of violence, rape or murder, there is no scope to condone the crime itself.
In the spirit of the Liberation War, the media has an important role to play in building a violence-free, gender-equal society, it said.
If media is diligent in fulfilling this role, its benefits will not only reflect on women, but it will also accelerate the overall progress of the country since women make up half of the total population, it added.