The role of local media in sexual violence

Nourin Ahmed Cynthia | Published: 00:00, Mar 08,2020

Nourin Ahmed Cynthia, The role of local media in recent rape culture

On February 22, Students Community against Rape Sexual Violence organised a campaign to raise awareness about sexual violence and rape at the capital’s Kalyanpur area. — SCaRSV

Local and regional media is playing a huge role in the rising rates of rape. Media portrayal of women is a source of motivation to commit sexual crimes for the people who see women as mere sexual objects. Addressing this issue and demanding quality entertainment where women are respected alike can reduce rape rates, writes Nourin Ahmed Cynthia

ONE of the reasons for increasing number of rape incidents is rooted in the culture of local and regional film industries. According to Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, 1,370 women and girls were raped in 2019. Moreover, on average, nearly 114 women were raped every month in the country and the rate is growing rapidly.

Two sisters were allegedly gang raped in Tongi on December 10, 2019. On the next day, a sixth grade student was brutally raped and killed in Rangpur’s Pirganj upazila. In fact, four people were arrested for attempting rape on a madrasa girl in Kalapara upazila of Patuakhali. Incidents like rape are happening every day.

One of the major reasons behind rape is the existing culture of portrayal of female sexuality in media. The people of Bangladesh specially the present and its previous generations are mostly influenced by Bollywood movies and songs — Bollywood culture. They love Hindi music, movies and TV serials. Even our cinemas are following Bollywood trend.

How come Bollywood culture plays a role in the rapid growth of rapes? Well, the answer lies in the representation of women in the movie industry. Bollywood represents women as an object. They represent women sexually inviting in their item songs to attract more audience. To name some, ‘Munni Badnam’, ‘Shila ki jawani’, ‘Laila’ et cetera. The lyrics and the costumes used in those songs represent women as purely sexual object. These item songs influence men to look upon women as an object. Men with chauvinist mentality do not consider women as human being. These songs motivate men to commit crimes like rape and sexual violence.

Men not only enjoy these songs but also create an image of women in their unconscious mind which leads them to commit such crimes. Our film industry is walking on the same path. Our films are basically following their footsteps. Our cinemas are also making item songs like ‘Magic Mamuni’, ‘Dana Kata Pari’ et cetera where the actresses are scantly dressed and do lustrous facial expressions and body language to give sexual vibes.

These songs create lustrous imagination of women in the minds of men who end up raping women and girls to meet their sexual fantasy. Not only the item songs but also the costumes of the actresses of the movies represent women sexually. Most of the Hindi movies these days use such out-fits for the actresses and use adult jokes to attract more viewer. But they are neglecting the fact that to make the movie a hit, they are damaging the physiology of men and perpetrate sexual violence on women.

How is this even connected to the rising rates of rape in our country? Well, the culture of a country has some influences to the culture of their neighbouring country. Our culture is also influenced by Indian culture for which we do gaye-holud programmes before our weddings. Even bride and groom exchange garlands in the wedding. Like Indian culture, our film industry is also following the Bollywood. So our cinemas are also making the actresses wear scantly dresses and using adult jokes which have a bad impact on the kids of this generation. This also makes men to look upon women sexually with no knowledge of consent and influence men to attempt rape.

In fact, these item songs are also influencing child rape. The item songs damage the mentality of men. They do not even think for once and put their lustrous gaze on female children. Thus, the female children even at times male children have also become the victims of such sexual brutality.

According to Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum, an organisation for child rights in Dhaka revealed that approximately 496 children were raped in Bangladesh during the first six months of 2019. On an average, three children were raped daily in 2019. In a report, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad revealed that at least 74 children were raped or victims of sexual violence in February 2020 alone.

In 2019, a two year old child was reportedly raped by a 45 year old man in Narayanganj. The incident took place at Alamin Nagar area. On the following day, an eleven year old girl was raped in St Martin’s Island of Cox’s Bazar by a 50 year old man.

Rape cases like these go to the court every day. Some get justice but most of the victims do not get justice. But even if the culprit gets punishment, what is about the life of the victim? Her whole life gets destroyed totally. What about the family of the victim? Their lives also get annulled. Their dreams for their daughters get shattered forever considering the social treatment of a rape victim.

Women and children are not safe anywhere. They are not safe outside home. They are not safe even in their own homes. Media reports show that a father failed to pay a debt of TK 6,000 and let the lender rape his 13 year old daughter multiple times throughout the year in Kamrangirchar. What can be more horrible than this?  A father let his own daughter to be raped.

Just after the evening, women are not safe in their workplaces and in the streets. They are not even safe during the day because women are being harassed in broad daylight in front of crowd and people are doing nothing.

The victims demand justice but no one comes forward to help them especially when the rapist is from powerful background. Hundreds and thousands of rape cases are pending in courts. The rapists are walking around freely and the victims are hiding themselves.

Issues like commercial entertaining songs have a major influence on the rising rate of rape which is an important subject but no one pays heed to it. Even no one knows about it, thinks about it. So how come violent crimes like rape will decline when the entertainment source is portraying women as mere sexual objects?

Such portrayal of females in movies and songs can be altered. For that, the people who work in the film industry need to be thoughtful and conscious because they may not be well aware that their portrayal of women is fuelling the rape culture. Next, they need to put an end to the making of item songs which are highly sexually manipulative. Indecent costumes, adult jokes should no longer exist in the cinemas which are damaging peoples’ mentality.

Thus it can be expected that the recent rate of rapes will at least decline to some extent if ew can address these issues.

Nourin Ahmed Cynthia is a student of BRAC University

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