Just six months after Sarah Evarad was abducted, raped and murdered by a duty police officer in the UK, Gabriella Petito went missing while traveling with her fianc in the US, and her now-confirmed death made international headlines. The Evard and Petito stories, though very different, see gender-based violence threatening women everywhere.
Then, a week or so after the Petito case media coverage, there were reports of the violent death of another woman in the UK, Sabina Nesser, a 28-year-old teacher who was walking to a nearby pub from her home in south London.
The Nesa case has intensified local fears that women on the streets of London are unsafe. But these fears are global. This is nothing less than a response to another epidemic লি gender-based violence যা that plagues our society and only exacerbates Covid-19.
Visibility for someone
Between March 2021 and September 2021, many women around the world went missing or were killed. Yet we don’t know the names or situations of most of them – even in the United Kingdom or the United States – because their stories have not made national or international headlines.
So why do some stories make news when others don’t?
Feminist media pundits have long noted that race, class, and age of victims of gender-related violence play an important role in determining how stories are made newsable as well as how they are made; Namely, whether the victims have been portrayed as “innocent” or, conversely, ashamed and blamed.
The families of the victims whose stories have been neglected know this very well. In a recent Washington Post article, they spoke of the silence surrounding the deaths of their loved ones. They insisted that the Gabriela Petito case attracted international media attention because she was white, middle-class and photogenic. Where the disappearance of their loved ones – women of color, poor women, trans women – is not universally identified, at best.
Life is miserable
This differential media coverage only reflects a larger social truth: the lives of some people are considered more miserable and, as a result, their deaths are mourned for the public. As the feminist philosopher Judith Butler has taught us, other lives are considered less worthy.
“We live in a society where the distribution of habitable life is deeply unequal, and only those who are recognized as“ important ”become vulnerable to the wider social and public,” he said.
It also helps explain the power of the hashtag #SayHerName, which was launched as part of a campaign to raise awareness about the number of black women and girls killed by law enforcement officials in the United States. It is now related to the murder of Sabina Nesa.
This universal naming of victims is not just to raise awareness or to recognize the individuality of each individual victim, each with its own history, passion and dreams. Rather, by naming these women, we refuse to give them a number or figure when – importantly – claiming that every life is important and thus miserable.
To hold the media accountable
Although the brutal assassination of Sabina Nessa has indeed become national and even international news, social media commentators have noted that there was an initial lack of attention from the mainstream media. This is because unlike Evarad and Petito, Nesa was a colorful woman.
In the wake of the murder, a storm started on Twitter, with the Nessa case and the type of media attention emphasizing the difference between the Evard case.
A tweet from well-known actress and TV presenter Jamila Jamil, who claimed that the same level of energy and aggression should be seen in the case of Nevar as Evarad, made it even harder to ignore the growing anger of the traditional media. Arising from the lack of consistent coverage in the UK.
The UK mainstream media is now following the case on a daily basis, it seems that the intervention has had an impact across cyberspace. In fact, they seem to have induced a racial reckoning among traditional traditional media outlets, driven by the influence and power of social media.
But the hashtag Movement X Nihilo does not come out. After all, the last few years have seen growing anger, frustration, and public outcry surrounding gender-based and racist violence. Thus, no one can understand the influence of influential people and hashtag movements like #BlackLivesMatter, #SayHerName and #MeToo without mass-demonstrations on the ground – from George March to the hundreds of protests in the wake of George Floyd’s assassination.
The way this powerful combination has helped open the floodgates of anger in the way gender and race provide specific lives – and often the lives of black and brown women – is less worthy than others and thus less tragic.
So we can start with #SayHerName: Sabina Nesa.
But we can’t stop there.
The media also needs to be equally accountable for its life coverage, eradicate this gender-based epidemic and work tirelessly towards a world where every life is justifiably miserable because it is livable.
The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect the author’s own and not necessarily the editorial position of Al Jazeera.