Angola: Journalist Uses Media to Advocate Against Domestic Violence
Thursday, May 27, 2010 3:50 PM

At a recent conference with ministers from the Council of Europe, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro asked media outlets to use their influence to end gender inequality by ending gender stereotypes and one-dimensional gender portrayals. “Such stereotyping, in turn, feeds into the gender discrimination which is a root cause of violence against women and girls.” From: Media Must Play Role in Pushing for Gender Equality, UN News Centre (24 May 2010). Migiro recognized the importance of law as an agent of social change, but stated that media outlets have the potential to become a forum to advocate for gender equality.
One example of a media outlet successfully advocating for gender equality is the Angolense, Angola’s top weekly investigative publication. Susana Mendes is the first female editor-in-chief for the paper. Traditionally, the paper has focused on corruption in the national government, socioeconomic injustices, and the oil industry. While maintaining investigations on those subjects, Mendes now brings attention to the topic of domestic violence as a public problem.
In 1986, Angola ratified the U.N.’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), but it has yet to criminalize domestic violence. The prevalence of domestic violence in Angola is very high and has been increasing in recent years. The U.S. State Department 2009 Human Rights Report on Angola noted that in Luanda, 78% of women have experienced household violence, almost double the global average of 30%.
Mendes has made it her mission to pass a bill which will criminalize domestic violence in Angola. Her mission stems from hearing survivors discuss their personal experiences with violence. Mendes was frustrated that these women had no opportunity for redress through the Angolan legal system. Using the media as a tool for advocacy, Angolense staff have published reports, conducted interviews, and hosted panels to discuss gender equality.