Framing safety of women in public transport: A media discourse analysis of sexual harassment cases in Bangladesh

Seama Mowri*, Ajay Bailey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This paper analyzes the role of print media in framing incidences of sexual harassment in public transport; particularly in the context of Bangladesh, where gender-based violence is highly prevalent in the public sphere. This article uses Douglas’ cultural theory to reflect on media practices and its institutional power to reframe the social problem through risk and blame attribution. We conducted a discourse analysis of 71 news articles extracted from four of the widely circulated and influential newspapers of Bangladesh. Our findings reveal that the hegemonic discourse of gender-based violence in public transport is systemic and/or primarily reliant on legal recourse. By contrast, discourses presenting sexual harassment as symptomatic of broader gender inequality is less frequent. Moreover, these media platforms belong to an assemblage of patriarchal social-power holders that collaborate with established law and order to facilitate a blame game, thereby relieving the same stakeholders of ownership and accountability. Given the power of news media in constructing meta-narratives of safety (and nudging policymakers), journalists must tread responsibly on issues of blame, women’s safety, and their rights to the city.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266–284
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Volume45
Issue number2
Early online date21 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Bangladesh
  • blame
  • critical discourse analysis
  • news media
  • public transport
  • sexual harassment

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