Home SOCIETY SENEGAL: WOMEN’S VOICES: Media immunity: a male privilege?

SENEGAL: WOMEN’S VOICES: Media immunity: a male privilege?


Who is entitled to media immunity? Is the information exclusively male? How do the representations of women in the media contribute to increasing the inequalities between the sexes and to imprint in the imaginaries of women and men, a devaluing image of women?

The liberalization of the audiovisual sector and the search for press buzz in general accentuate the divisions between men and women. The media are increasingly relaying violent and misogynistic discourse about our bodies, our attitudes, our behaviors and the values ​​that we are supposed to embody and transmit to our offspring. This results in an essentialization of Senegalese women who respect a certain conformism in the image of virtuous women whose quality is above all to be mother, daughter, sister of illustrious characters in our history. One undergoes the exalted instrumentalization of their abnegation, their submission, their patience, their generosity, their devotion which would have no other function than to call the “deviant” to order and legitimize the domination. masculine, by perpetuating a fixed feminine identity in which we hardly recognize ourselves.

Much of the media, made by and for men, offers a biased portrayal of women and ignores the oppressions they experience. We think in particular of all those articles and television shows which, when they decide to tackle the issue of violence against women, reproduce a stereotypical analysis of situations, without taking into account the power asymmetry between men and women and by displaying clearly a bias that perpetuates male privilege. We must also denounce all religious programs which produce, in abundance, reactionary speeches about women; those in which the animators question men and sometimes other women who are supposed to know what religious texts prescribe for women in terms of submission to the male moral order. This angle of processing information protects men, with the idea of ​​understanding their experiences in the background, without ever paying attention to the consequences of violence on the women who experience it. They are automatically granted a sort of media immunity to clear them of all sin. Remember seven years ago a rape case hit the headlines. A famous journalist had been confronted with a young woman who had accused him of rape. This case reinforces what we are talking about today. Almost all newspapers, radio stations and websites had participated in blaming the victim with a sort of witch hunt emphasizing the victim, blaming him for his behavior considered unconventional.

As for the culprit, after having served part of his prison sentence, he has made a new media virginity. In fact, the sensational media often put more focus on the victim, not hesitating to detail the life and / or the attacks suffered, all accompanied by disqualifying or even defamatory comments. Added to this is an omission of the same details about the perpetrators, offering them almost anonymization or turning some perpetrators into victims of the subsequent female hysteria. For the victims, the treatment by the buzz, the peopolization or the lightness of the terms used to speak of these crimes and extremely serious situations through which they have passed as well as the systemic sexism added to the sordid, constitute a cumulative trauma. Chain trauma, in a social context which, even today, blames the female victims for what they suffered. All this limits the possibilities for these women to recover from such atrocities. This media treatment is also disastrous and hindering for health professionals, who, failing to be able to count on a prevention system and structured and effective psychosocial relays, find themselves playing the firefighters of highly compromised situations due to these cumulative traumas in which participate well largely the media.

Seven years after this first affair, where are we? The report is bitter. Between a professor of philosophy who defends rape during a program dedicated to the international day of women’s rights and a woman treated as crazy because she dared to speak of a pregnancy contracted out of wedlock, we sees that the situation is still the same.

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The mobilisations around the hashtags #Nopiwuma #Doyna # TontonSaïSaï # BalanceTonSaïSaï and more recently the social media outings of Ndella Madior Diouf were a great opportunity for the media to support women’s rights by amplifying, through a serious investigation, her voice and those of hundreds of others who are going through a similar situation or have suffered sexual assault and who called her to share their experiences.

It is clear that, since the outbreak of this affair, the angle of treatment of the media has remained more or less the same. The headlines in the newspapers portray these “bad” women as indecent, unscrupulous beings, so that all the blame is on them, again. The refusal of paternity, a theme mainly dealt with, and therefore of man’s responsibility for his acts, is done by casting shame on women, and worse even, by bringing in male experts for the most part who will come to explain either d ‘from a legal or religious point of view, a situation which concerns both men and women.

This approach is in no way consistent with the duty to inform in accordance with the rules of ethics and professional conduct. Serious and committed journalistic work must “center” the voices of those first concerned. The press contributes to the socialization of boys and girls, while making and reproducing social models and roles. It would therefore be important to have journalistic perspectives that help to empower excluded groups and reduce inequalities between women and men through anti-oppressive representations.

To raise awareness, the media should use more accurate words in the way they represent women and avoid minimizing the suffering of those affected by the silence, sensationalism or the trivialization of the experience. Femicide is not a “marital drama”.

We suggest that the press groups do substantive work on the elimination of stereotypes, that we question the choices of the guests, that we deconstruct the sexist climate which allows the expression of discriminatory words on the sets. . Such an approach could not be done without in-depth training on gendered representations of social roles and statuses and a reflection on media prejudices particularly in relation to class, origin, opinions, political choices, religious affiliation. – and real strategies to take into account everyone’s voices.


Prof. Mame-Penda Ba UFR Legal and Political Sciences, Gaston Berger University Director of LASPAD (Laboratory for the Analysis of Societies and Powers / Africa-Diaspora)
Dr Selly Ba, Sociologist
Dr Oumoul Khaïry Coulibaly, sociologist and gender specialist
Dr Halima Diallo, social psychologist and lecturer
Dr. Rama Salla DIENG Lecturer in African Studies and International Development, University of Edinburgh
Fatou Kiné Diouf, independent exhibition curator
Ndèye Yacine Faye, Network of Young Women Leaders from West Africa and Dafa Doy Communication Officer
Mariama Faye, Social Sciences Specialist, Women’s Rights Activist and Member of Civil Society Organizations
Diakhoumba Gassama, jurist, member of the Senegalese and African Feminist Forum and of the board of directors of the Association for the Rights of Women in Development (AWID)
Marame Guèye, Ph.D., Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Literatures and Gender, Department of English, East Carolina University
Marina Kabou, lawyer, doctoral student, member of AJS, Coordinator of the DafaDoy collective
Ndèye Fatou Kane, Gender Studies, EHESS Paris
Laïty Fary Ndiaye, sociologist, community organizer, associate researcher at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute (Concordia University) and founding member of the Jàma collective
Daba Ndione, sociologist
Fatou Warkha Sambe, Activist for the Respect of Women’s Rights and founder of WarkhaTv
Dr Fatou Sow, sociologist, former CNRS / UCAD researcher
Khaïra THIAM clinical psychologist, specialist in psychiatric pathologies and clinical criminology
Maïmouna Eliane Thior, doctoral student in sociology


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