Myths Broken or Sustained: Representation of Women Victims in Pakistani Media


Media is a cultural element that not only reflects the dominant attitudes of society but also shapes our approaches. Pakistani media mirrors the cultural influence on thoughts and ideas. This study intends to examine the current portrayal of women in crime reporting in Pakistani English print media. It also uncovers the change in media images, if there is any, over a period of seven years by comparing portrayal of women in 2007 with that in 2014. Data from widely read newspapers (Dawn and The News) for the period of March, 2007 and 2014 were collected and analyzed for linguistic choices using pragmatic approach. English media discourse is analyzed by following Mill’s approach of Feminist Stylistics. Data are quantified to find the frequency of lexical choices being made. Result shows asymmetry in reporting female victims who are still described in terms of their marital status whereas male victims/perpetrators are represented in terms of their profession. Statistics show a slight change in naming victims and reporting their age in news.

Share and Cite:

Yasmin, M. , Sohail, A. and Mangrio, R. (2015) Myths Broken or Sustained: Representation of Women Victims in Pakistani Media. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 3, 209-219. doi: 10.4236/jss.2015.37033.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Jewkes, Y. (2011) Media and Crime. 2nd Edition, Sage, London.
[2] Sultana, N. (2009) The Role of Media in the Development and Promotion of English in Pakistan. PhD. Thesis, National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad.
[3] Iqbal, Z. (2012) Media and Musharraf: A Marriage of Convenience. European Scientific Journal, 8, 5-8.
[4] Yasmin, M. (2007) How Are Women Represented in Pakistani English Newspapers? MA. Thesis, University of Reading, Reading.
[5] Lakoff, R. (1975) Language and Women’s Place. Harper & Row, New York.
[6] Spender, D. (1980) Man Made Language. Routledge, London.
[7] Vetterling-Braggin, M. (1981) Sexist Language: A Modern Philosophical Analysis. Littlefield Adams, Totowa.
[8] Parks, J.B. and Roberton, M.A. (1998) Contemporary Arguments against Nonsexist Language. Blaubergs (1980) Revisited. Sex Roles, 39, 445-461.
[9] Wodak, R., Ed. (1997) Gender and Discourse. Sage, London.
[10] Mills, S. (1995) Feminist Stylistics. Routledge, London.
[11] Moulton, J. (1981) The Myth of the Neutral “Man”. In: Vetterling-Braggin, M., Ed., Sexist Language, Littlefield and Adams, Paterson, 100-115.
[12] Mercier, A. (1995) A Perverse Case of the Contingent A Priori: On the Logic of Emasculating Language. (A Reply to Dawkins and Dummett). Philosophical Topics, 23, 221-259.
[13] Martyna, W. (1983) Beyond the He/Man Approach: The Case for Non-Sexist Language. In: Thorne, B., Kramarae, C. and Henley, N., Eds., Language, Gender and Society, Newbury House, Rowley, 25-37.
[14] Gygax, P., Gabriel, U., Sarrasin, O., Oakhill, J. and Garnham, A. (2008) There Is No Generic Masculine in French and German: When Beauticians, Musicians and Mechanics Are All Men. Language and Cognitive Processes, 23, 464-485.
[15] Mucchi-Faina, A. (2005) Visible or Influential? Language Reforms and Gender (In)equality. Social Science Information, 44, 189-215.
[16] Parks, J.B. and Roberton, M.A. (2004) Attitudes toward Women Mediate the Gender Effect on Attitudes toward Sexist Language. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28, 233-239.
[17] Swim, J.K., Mallett, R. and Stangor, C. (2004) Understanding Subtle Sexism: Detection and Use of Sexist Language. Sex Roles, 51, 117-128.
[18] Cameron, D. (1985) Feminism and Linguistic Theory. Macmillan, London.
[19] Burton, D. (1982) Through Dark Glasses through Glass Darkly. In: Carter, R., Ed., Language and Literature, Allen and Unwin, London, 195-214.
[20] Miller, C. and Swift, K. (1976) Words and Women: New Language in New Times. Anchor, New York.
[21] Penelope, J. (1990) Speaking Freely: Unlearning the Lies of the Fathers’ Tongues. Pergamon, New York.
[22] Pauwels, A. (2001) Spreading the Feminist Word: The Case of the New Courtesy Title “Ms”. In: Marlis, H. and Hadumod, B., Eds., Gender across Languages: International Perspectives of Language Variation and Change, Benjamins, Amsterdam, 137-151.
[23] Schulz, M. (1990) The Semantic Derogation of Women. In: Cameron, D., Ed., The Feminist Critique of Language, Routledge, London, 134-147.
[24] Becker, H. (2007) Making Tradition: A Historical Perspective on Gender in Namibia. In: LaFont, S. and Hubbard, D., Eds., Unravelling Taboos: Gender and Sexuality in Namibia, Gender Research and Advocacy Project, Legal Assistance Centre, Windhoek, 22-38.
[25] Fernando, W.D.A. and Cohen, L. (2014) Respectable Femininity and Career Agency: Exploring Paradoxical Imperatives. Gender, Work and Organization, 21, 149-164.
[26] Khumalo, E.K., McKay, H.K. and Freimund, W. (2015) Who Is a “Real Woman”? Empowerment and the Discourse of Respectability in Namibia’s Zambezi Region. Women’s Studies International Forum, 48, 47-56.
[27] Byerly, C.M. (1999) News, Feminism, and the Dialectics of Gender Relations. In: Meyers, M., Ed., Mediated Women: Representations in Popular Culture, Hampton Press, Cresskill, 383-404.
[28] Meyers, M. (1999) Fracturing Women. In: Meyers, M., Ed., Mediated Women: Representations in Popular Culture, Hampton Press, Cresskill, 3-23.
[29] Mazza, C. and Alvarez, J.L. (2000) Haute Couture and Prêt-à-Porter: The Popular Press and the Diffusion of Management Practices. Organization Studies, 21, 567-588.
[30] Czarniawska, B. and Rhodes, C. (2006) Strong Plots: Popular Culture in Management Practice and Theory. In: Gagliardi, P. and Czarniawska, B., Eds., Management Education and Humanities, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, 195-218.
[31] Rhodes, C. and Parker, M., Eds. (2008) Images of Organizing in Popular Culture. Special Issue of Organization, 15, 627-637.
[32] Mavin, S., Bryans, P. and Cunningham, R. (2010) Fed-Up with Blair’s Babes, Gordon’s Gals, Cameron’s Cuties, Nick’s Nymphets: Challenging Gendered Media Representations of Women Political Leaders. Gender in Management: An International Journal, 25, 550-569.
[33] George, C., Hartley, A. and Paris, J. (2001) The Representation of Female Athletes in Textual and Visual Media. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 6, 94-101.
[34] Powell, G.N. (1999) Reflections on the Glass Ceiling: Recent Trends and Future Prospects. In: Powell, G.N., Ed., Handbook of Gender & Work, Sage, Thousand Oaks, 325-345.
[35] Krefting, L.A. (2002) Re-Presenting Women Executives: Valorization and Devalorization in US Business Press. Women in Management Review, 17, 104-119.
[36] Chafai, H. (2007) Gender and the Language of Advertising. A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Women’s Representation in British and Moroccan Magazine Advertisements. Thesis.
[37] Piller, I. (2003) Advertising as a Site of Language Contact. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 23, 170-183.
[38] Plakoyiannaki, E. and Zotos, Y. (2009) Female Role Stereotypes in Print Advertising: Identifying Associations with Magazine and Product Categories. European Journal of Marketing, 43, 1411-1434.
[39] Yasmin, M. (2014) Divas in Print: The Portrayal of Gender in Pakistani Print Media.
[40] Pizarro, J.M., Chermak, S.M. and Gruenewald, J.A. (2007) Juvenile “Super Predators” in the News: A Comparison of Adult and Juvenile Homicides. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 14, 84-111.
[41] Heidenson, F. (1996) Women and Crime. 2nd Edition, Macmillan, Basingstoke.
[42] Zia, A. (1994) Sex Crime in the Islamic Context: Rape, Class and Gender in Pakistan. ASR Publications, Lahore.
[43] Rasool, S. and Irshad, S. (2006) Use of Gender Specific Language in Crime Reporting. Journal of Gender and Social Issues, 5, 15-37.
[44] Meloy, M. and Miller, S. (2009) Words That Wound: Print Media’s Presentation of Gendered Violence. In: Humphries, D., Ed., Media and Violence against Women, Northeastern University Press, Boston, 29-56.
[45] Ahmed, S. (2014) Violence against Women: Media Representation of Violent Issues in the Perspective of Pakistan. Science International, 26, 367-371.
[46] Lees, S. (1995) Media Reporting of Rape: The 1993 British “Date Rape” Controversy. In: Kidd Hewitt, D. and Osborne, R., Eds., Crime and the Media: The Post-Modern Spectacle, Pluto Press, London, 107-130.
[47] Bullock, C.F. and Cubert, J. (2002) Coverage of Domestic Violence Fatalities by Newspapers in Washington State. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17, 475-499.
[48] Park, G.L. and Gordon, J. (2005) Domestic Violence Presentation Raises Awareness in Student Reporters’ Stories. Newspaper Research Journal, 26, 113-118.
[49] Taylor, R. (2009) Slain and Slanderer: A Content Analysis of the Portrayal of Femicide in Crime News. Homicide Studies, 13, 21-49.
[50] Maddox, A.M. (2010) When Love Turns Lethal: A Content Analysis of Intimate Partner Homicide in Print Media. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Central Florida, Orlando.
[51] Eschholz, S. and Vaughn, M.S. (2001) Police Sexual Violence and Rape Myths: Civil Liability under Section 1983. Journal of Criminal Justice, 29, 389-405.
[52] Berkeley Media Studies Group (2003) Distracted by Drama: How California Newspapers Portray Intimate Partner Violence.
[53] Poukchanski, A. (2011) Ripples from the First Stone. The Sydney Institute Quarterly, 39, 10-14.
[54] Judd, K. and Easteal, P. (2013) Media Reportage of Sexual Harassment: The Incredible Complainant. Denning Law Journal, 25, 159-180.
[55] Pollak, J.M. and Kubrin, C.E. (2007) Crime in the News: How Crimes, Offenders and Victims Are Portrayed in the Media? Journal of Criminal Justice & Popular Culture, 14, 59-83.
[56] Henley, N.M., Miller, M.D. and Beazley, J.A. (1995) Syntax, Semantics, and Sexual Violence: Agency and the Passive Voice. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 14, 60-84.
[57] Alat, Z. (2006) News Coverage of Violence against Women—The Turkish Case. Feminist Media Studies, 6, 295-314.
[58] Khan, N. and Abas, N. (2014) Smart Crime Science and Shabby Control Technologies. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Computational and Social Sciences (ICCSS-2014), Rize, 26-28 August 2014, 695-711.
[59] Custers, K. and Van den Bulck, J. (2013) The Cultivation of Fear of Sexual Violence in Women: Processes and Moderators of the Relationship between Television and Fear. Communication Research, 40, 96-124.
[60] Esteal, P., Holland, K. and Judd, K. (2015) Enduring Themes and Silences in Media Portrayals of Violence against Women. Women’s Studies International Forum, 48, 103-113.
[61] Nuthall, G. (1999) Learning How to Learn: The Evolution of Students’ Minds through the Social Processes and Culture of the Classroom. International Journal of Educational Research, 31, 139-256.
[62] Nuthall, G. (2007) The Hidden Lives of Learners. NZCER Press, Wellington.
[63] Black, L. (2007) Interactive Whole Class Teaching and Pupil Learning. Language and Education, 21, 271-283.
[64] Graham, E.T. (2009) “She’s Black More than She’s a Woman”. A Mixed Method Analysis of the Construction of Gender and Psychological Outcomes among Black Female College Students. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Miami, Miami.
[65] Bryman, A. (2001) Social Research Methods. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
[66] Lee, T.L., Fiske, S.T., Glick, P. and Chen, Z.X. (2010) Ambivalent Sexism in Close Relationships: (Hostile) Power and (Benevolent) Romance Shape Relationship Ideals. Sex Roles, 62, 583-601.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.