The Role and Effect of Mass Media on Rape and Sexual Violence against Women and Girls: A case study of South Kivu in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Lavua Ntumba Murphy, Li Zhenfang


Prevalence of grave rapes and sexual violence against women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) prompted the conduction of this study. The study aimed to explore the roles and effects of mass media on rape and sexual violence against women and girls in South Kivu. One main research question, which is, what are the cognitive, affective, and behavioral effects guided data collection, analysis, presentation and discussion of research findings. The study brought forward an intensive discussion on the way mass media play different roles and exert different effects on the audiences concerning rape and sexual violence. The study used the qualitative research which involved semi-structured interview and focus group discussions to collect data from 144 participants including government officials, journalists, religious leaders and victims. The findings revealed that respondents recognized the significant roles and effects of mass media in conveying, cognitive, affective, and behavioral changes on people with regard to rape and sexual violence.  On cognitive effect, the findings indicated that 72% participants believed that mass media reporting was used as a tool to help activists and governments raise awareness and implement programs on the issues of rape and sexual violence in the community. In addition, 63% participants considered that mass media have been providing methods to reduce incidents of rape and sexual violence in DRC.  On affective effect, two thirds of participants considered mass media as creating awareness and instigated courage among the victims of rape and sexual violence on how to cope with the trauma. But more than half participants also suggested that mass media incorporated images that convey destructive messages, causing more trauma and disinterest among the victims. On behavioral change, 67% participants thought mass media  raised awareness among the community to protect victims of rape and sexual violence against the traumas and denials., news coverage about rape and sexual violence against women were sensational, exploitative, lacking serious analysis of the prevalence hence bring no significant impact on the fight against these incidents.  The study also found that victims of circumstances, women and girls are experiencing multiple pathological hurt, including, physical, psychological and social consequences.   Interviewees were of the view that in some cases mass media fuels the incidents of rape and sexual violence by putting stigmas to the victims with contents they cover.  As the means to combat rape and sexual violence, the study found that mass media shaped public discourse, raised sensitization, through reporting and implementing programs about issues of rape and sexual violence in DRC.

Keywords: Mass Media on Rape, Sexual Violence, female

DOI: 10.7176/NMMC/80-07

Publication date:May 31st 2019

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3267 ISSN (Online)2224-3275

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