CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Minister warns media to end hostility to women
BANGUI, 5 December (IRIN) - Central African Republic (CAR) Communication Minister Fidel Ngouandjika has told local media executives that he would take firm action against any newspapers or radio and television stations that run stories or programmes that are hostile towards women.
His decision, he said, came after hearing local radio stations airing songs and other programmes that undermine women in the community.
"In a programme I listened on Radio Ndeke-Luka, I noticed that men were discriminatory towards women," he said on Friday on state owned radio. "The programme went on to say that women should be beaten if they misbehave."
Such statements and attitudes, he said, showed disrespect for women and "do not contribute to the reinforcement of peace and human rights".
Ngouandjika's threat received mixed reactions in the capital city of Bangui. On Sunday, Gounengai Wanfio, the head of the CAR Human Rights League, said Ngouandjika's remarks were misdirected and failed to deal with a larger social issue.
"The problem of women in the CAR is that of their status. Rather than putting the blame on the media, the government should work out the status of women and respect their rights," Wanfio said.
However, Radio Ndeke-Luka producer Zephyrin Kaya said there was no reason whatsoever for society to behave in a manner that was abusive and undermined women.
"I fully appreciate the minister's decision," he said.
Disrespect sometime goes beyond abuse. A police officer in Bangui, speaking on condition of anonymity, said episodes of domestic violence, especially when fuled by alcohol, sometimes led to murder.
"A few months ago a man was arrested and sent to the central prison after he killed his partner for making love with another man," he said.
Bernadette Sayo, who head the local NGO OCODEFAD that cares for rape victims, said men in the CAR still perceived women as objects they could manipulate.
"Despite efforts by the government to protect women, I can say that our rights are always violated," she said. "We are abused and face humiliation all the time."