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Unsung Heroines: Media Reflections of the Social Conflict in South Africa

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image of African and Asian Studies
For more content, see Journal of Asian and African Studies.

ABSTRACT This essay examines both media reports on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and the TRC's final report, to determine the reasons why women are portrayed in the media — when they are portrayed at all — almost exclusively as victims. This author examines media reports which deal with the testimony of women who lived through the period of social conflict (1960 to 1994) covered by the TRC. Building on theories that argue that media can create as well as reflect reality, the authors shows that women were not adequately represented in the media reports on the TRC, and thus in the public mind, in spite of efforts to include them in the TRC process. Thus, although the TRC process may have been helpful to individual women, it can be argued that it has had little impact on how people view women's role in South Africa, and more generally in armed conflict and social unrest world-wide.


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