Under-Reporting and Endemic: Analysis of News Reports On Violence Against Women in Nepal


Using datasets of publicly-reported incidents collated by Nepal Monitor (reported by news media, INSEC, and Nepal Police) between 2018 and 2020, Democracy Resource Center Nepal analyzed how these incidents were covered in news-media. In the publicly reported incidents of Violence Against Women (VAW), the stories of rape and sexual assault are prioritized, while domestic violence is under-reported even though it is far more endemic. The frequency of public-reports does not reflect provincial prevalence levels of VAW. News reports on VAW were at least three to four sentences shorter than on incidents other than VAW and mostly prioritized the point of view of law enforcement agencies. Accounts by survivors, their family members, and other witnesses were rarely included. Many news stories tried to protect survivors/victims by not revealing their names but included information that could easily reveal their identities. Most importantly, news stories were incident driven and made little effort to connect the incident to the larger context of violence against women. By moving away from incident driven reporting and adopting a public health framework to report VAW, news media can make positive contribution to the larger narrative of VAW. Such a framework includes incorporating relevant data and statistics, contextualizing stories, suggesting the responsibilities of communities in preventing VAW, and improving access to justice for survivors. Further, reporting on VAW needs to confront the structural constraints that result from the inadequate presence of women in senior positions within news media.