Gender-based violence in discourse . A comparative study on anti-violence communication initiatives across Europe, in Austria and Spain

Birgit Wolf

Abstract

Considering the efforts to resolve the widespread societal phenomenon of violence against women, awareness-raising and the role of the media comprise one of the key targets by the most important international agreements to combat it. The women’s anti-violence movement since the 1970s has made essential contributions to the recognition of violence against women as a human rights violation and is a crucial player in the field of violence prevention. Its anti-violence initiatives are of major importance. Looking at the media in general, we can observe how different programmes and formats depict similar (visual) narratives of clichéd imagination on intimate partner violence, whereas the systemic nature of the problem mostly remains hidden (Bonilla Campos, 2008; Boyle, 2005; Geiger, 2008; López Díez, 2005; Taylor, 2009; Wolf, 2013a, b). This lack of clarity is hindering the comprehension of gender-based violence as a societal phenomenon.

The imagery disseminated by the women’s anti-violence movement and institutionalised entities constitutes the core subject of this article, in order to obtain insights into the supposed alternative representations appropriate to contrast the ‘malestream’ media on the subject. Their contributions to visual discourse through European-wide, Spanish and Austrian anti-violence initiatives are analysed from 2007 to 2011 - before the Istanbul Convention came into force. As the social roots and the transposition of the complexity of gender-based violence constitute a rather ambiguous undertaking, the analysis aims to disclose how anti-violence initiatives shape the social accounts of male-to-female partner violence, identifying good practice examples and underlying ideological concepts. 

Keywords

audio-visual media; visual discourse; violence against women; gender-based violence; prevention; campaigns

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References

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