Gender-Based Violence is a huge issue that South Africa is grappling with today. A lot of effort is going into addressing the vice.  With all this effort, having a child working to help address such an issue is rarely seen in the media. Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives SowetanLIVE a GLAD[1] for reporting on a child who has decided to be part of the fight in a major way. The media is also commended for quoting the child throughout the article and for positively portraying her as one with agency.

Disturbed by incidents of GBV, teen invents device to help women and children call for help(SowetanLIVE,  22/09/2020) by Yoliswa Sobuwais a story about Bohlale Mphahlele who created a device to help fight Gender-Based Violence. The 16-year-old pupil from S.J. Van der Merwe Technical High School is reported to have created the device to help women and children call for help when they feel at risk. She says in the article that she did this because of the high number of kidnappings, rape and human trafficking cases of women and children in the country. Due to this, Mphahlele made it to the Eskom science expo for Young Scientists where she received a medal for her innovation. A bright photograph showing the child posing with her medal accompanies the article.

 The child is quoted in the article saying, “The device has a camera which is able to capture the perpetrator’s face and send it to the numbers connected to the device. It can also trace the movements of the perpetrator and the victim, making it easier for the police to do their job”.

MMA often sees a lot of missed opportunities[2] in the media when it comes to reporting on children. In most instances, children are not quoted when reporting on their achievements as journalists mostly focus on interviewing their teachers or parents. SowetanLIVE’s reporting therefore stands out by allowing Mphahlele to talk about her achievement. By doing this the media has promoted the child’s right to participation.

The journalist also promoted the children’s right freedom of speech, which is outlined in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC)[3] which South Africa ratified in 2000. Article 7 of the Charter states,” Every child who is capable of communicating his or her own views shall be assured the rights to express his opinions freely in all matters and to disseminate his opinions subject to such restrictions as are prescribed by the law.”

MMA commends such reporting and would like to see more of such articles that give children a voice to share their involvement in the fight against such vices.

By Girlie Sibanda

[1] GLADs are awarded to media for reporting on children responsibly and for accessing them

[2] A missed opportunity is a story in which children are not accessed when they could have been

[3] (See page 3)