CREATING A SPIRAL OF SILENCE? PRINT MEDIA REPORTAGE AND AUDIENCE PERCEPTION OF RAPE IN NIGERIA

Ifeoma Vivian Dunu, Godfrey Ekene Okafor

Abstract


Some past studies on rape coverage not only signposted the media reinforcement of negative female stereotypes but also construction of rape myths among receivers, especially the male gender. With few of such studies domesticated in Nigeria and given that media coverage of issues have great potential to shape public opinion, this work employs a mix of survey and content analysis to interrogate the extent the print media rape coverage in Nigeria is laden with myths that reinforce rape culture; And how this representation influence the audience reception. The survey population consists of all male and female citizens from 18 years and above residing in the urban cities of the three south eastern states of Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu. The population for the content analysis also consists of all Nigerian (nationally circulated) daily newspapers published during the period of the study (January – August 2014). The study found that 62% of the respondents accept that media rape reports are laden with myths which affect their perception, wherein they mainly blame the victims.- an indication that the print media use of rape myths impacts negatively on audience perception of rape victims. It was also realized that the dominant cause of rape is willful act against the victims (40%), aside the act of waywardness (30%) and indecent Dressing (30%). As per the Content Analysis, sample editions of the newspapers studied reported 104 stories on rape, with majority being straight news (87%) aside the few other contents: features (1.9%), opinion (1.9%) interviews (1.9%) editorials (3.8%) and columns (3.8%). Apart from this low frequency of reportage of rape cases, all the 104 issues published by the three newspapers within the period, were all buried inside pages which were mainly centered on victim-blame. The three Newspapers each, contained the seven rape myths categorized by Burt, (1980). Therefore, the media should often campaign against myths and stereotypes aassociated with rape and sexual violence, to help dispel myths about rape.

Keywords


Rape, Rape Cases, Rape Myths, Perception, Reports,

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