4-Month Media Fellowship

Media Monitoring Africa is offering a 4-month fellowship to the right candidate with an interest in media and human rights. The fellowship will entail examining, researching, investigating and engaging with the issue of the misappropriation of cultural practices and how they contribute to human trafficking in South Africa, particularly of the girl child. Based in Jo’burg with fieldwork in the Eastern Cape (9 weeks in total). Stipend and research costs paid for.


·              Excellent writing and story-telling abilities (working journalist or journalism experience preferred but not essential)

·              Ability to think critically and analytically

·              Knowledge, understanding and fluency in isiXhosa essential as research will be taking place in Eastern Cape

Start date: 01 February 2013

Applications close on Friday, 30 November 2012

Submit your CV and a one-page motivation letter as to why you are the best person for the fellowship, tomelanieh@mma.org.za

Project: Child Protection & Trafficking: Is the media telling the right(s) story?

Phase II

THE GIRL CHILD & UKUTHWALA: Misappropriated cultural practices and their contribution to human trafficking in South Africa


In the development and completion of its groundbreaking project, “Child Protection & Trafficking: Is the media telling the right story?” MMA determined the need to bridge the gap between the misconception of human trafficking and its actual manifestations in South Africa. In working to understand and evaluate the general media’s attitude toward the issue of human trafficking, as well as its efforts to engage the media with the issue in a more comprehensive integrated way.

MMA has accumulated an increased knowledge of the scope of the problem of human trafficking and its numerous complexities in relation to misappropriated traditional cultural practices in South Africa. Additionally, there is often a close relationship between these two issues and how they play off of the increasing vulnerability of girl children in South Africa. It is necessary to bridge these issues, and to have a media that are knowledgeable and sensitive to cultural practices and who can communicate in such a way as to bring about a positive discussion and debate of these issues in order to foster a societal understanding and willingness to engage. Understanding that culture is a non-static facet of any society, all too frequently it is used to justify human rights violations. As culture changes to meet a particular society’s needs, where a particular practice is no longer relevant, or steps outside of its original intended boundaries it needs to be assessed. Children are often found to be stuck in the middle of traditional cultural practice yet coming to a new found understanding of their rights.

As a central role player in the dissemination of information in South Africa, the media has potential to facilitate dialogue, debate and discussion of nuanced cultural practice as well as addressing sensitive social issues. At the same time media also has the power to reinforce stereotype, to sensationalise and deepen divides in society. On matters where people have deeply held cultural beliefs it is not as simple as suggesting that the cultural practices are harmful and should be stopped; instead the complexity of the issue needs to be addressed.

This requires that media recognises the important role it can and should play in human rights accountability, that it holds the same knowledge that citizens require, and is able to transfer this knowledge through reporting.

A responsible media will endeavour to inform beyond the sensational and the immediate, seek to report in a way that will engage all citizens in society, across cultural divides. A responsible media which understands the need to not only inform citizens of their rights in a clear way, but also to uphold these rights is the kind of media which would benefit South Africa, and which would play an integral part in fostering positive growth.

Investigation, Research and Information Gathering

In order to lead the way in fostering clear, factual, and concise information sharing on these often confusing issues, MMA plans to undertake an extensive investigative research and information gathering task. As the foundational component of the broader project, the research and investigation is crucial to the success of the project. MMA will endeavour to gain the fullest scope of knowledge and insight into this complex issue as is possible, by reaching out to communities, community members, and traditional leaders in various locations particularly in Eastern Cape. In addition expertise and insight from other related stakeholders will additionally be acquired, including understanding of media’s current general interest and level of engagement with these issues.

MMA undertakes to document in depth, with images, video and written journalism, the comprehensive story of ukuthwala and similar practices which are currently occurring in South Africa currently within the eroded boundaries of accepted cultural practices. This will consists of factual information, experiences, originating and current circumstances of those individuals or communities affected by these issues. Most importantly MMA aims to portray the reality of the (highly complex) situation as it stands in South Africa.

Primary Fellowship Objective: To Investigate and research in-depth, the issue of forced marriage which equates to human trafficking, as occurring today in South Africa under the guise of ukuthwala. To obtain knowledge of levels of awareness within communities, and how information is communicated through the media about this and other related issues. To produce wrttien pieces for publication.

Scope of Fellowship

Beginning Feb 2013, to the end of May 2013, the chosen fellow will assist MMA’s human trafficking expert and Child Protection & Trafficking Programme Head, in undertaking the investigation and research component of the broader project, over the course of 4 months.

You will be required to become familiar with MMA’s work on the issue and be able to engage with others on the topic from MMA’s position.

You will be required to become familiar with South African anti-trafficking environment, stakeholders, legislation etc.

Your duties will comprise of assisting the programme head with planning, liaising, and general administration during the 4 month period.

You will be required to produce written pieces for publication on the issue as the research progresses (All work compiled during the 4 month period will be used in a publication on the project later in 2013)

Activities will include but not limited to:

  • Networking to identify various stakeholders in both Eastern Cape as well as Gauteng: those who play a role within rural communities, as well as media partners who would be an important link between these rural communities and others, identify the key information disseminating resources and/platforms in rural communities.
  • Identify key research locations/communities where field research will be undertaken
  • Assist Project Coordinator in monitoring media for any and all topic/issue related stories.  All major national newspapers will be scanned and monitored. Regional media need to be identified and obtained to include in research in an effort to achieve a comparative analyses between National and regional/local media coverage of the topic/issue
  • 9 weeks (in total, spread over the 4 month fellowship) spent investigating and documenting in the field the practice of ukuthwala, and the general situation/circumstance of the girl child within rural locations and environments; as well as.
  • Conduct interviews and surveys, with individuals and/or communities who have been affected by the misappropriated practice in some way. (Source willing participants to take part in interviews, which will be conducted with the up-most sensitivity in line with a children’s rights based approach, and where possible including social workers or professionals )
  • Production of written pieces, with analyses and recommendations, for publication
  • Keep an online blog for the duration of the fellowship