The Sudan Massacre: Patterns of Oversight in the Media

Image courtesy of Forbes. #Blueforsudan

The situation in Sudan

This week was marred by reports of a gruesome massacre occurring in Sudan. According to these reports, civilians engaged in peaceful protest against a military government have become victims of Sudanese militia. More specifically, hundreds of people have died at the hands of armed forces, while at least 70 rape caseshave been reported. 

It goes without saying that a majority of these rape victims have been women. 

Lack of media coverage

What remains puzzling is the lack of media coverage on the issue. Instead, social media has become the predominant tool for awareness and advocacy against this tragedy. Pop culture icons such as Rihannaand social media influencers such as Shahd Khadirhave had to use their social media platforms to inform the general public of the Sudan ordeal. 

The inaction and lack of media attention displayed by this crisis is not at all surprising. In a period where outrage is applied to every news story, there seems to be a clear lack of concern for the dehumanisation of black bodies and black women. The boko haram kidnapping fiasco comes to mind as a further illustration of this. 

It is difficult to imagine a scenario where mainstream media is passive about a massacre that results in the rape of 70 White women. The sheer outrage that the masses would display in such a situation is unthinkable. The aid, advocacy and support that these victims would receive is overwhelming.

Following the chastisement of the gory images shared by the media after the recent terrorist attack at Dusit Hotel in Kenya, some may argue that the media has shied away from reporting such stories. I argue that the graceless images act as further evidence of the stark difference in western media’s approach to white tragedy vs. tragedies faced by people of colour.

Role of the Media in reporting tragedies

As we know, the media has an immense influence in inciting action and holding the international community accountable.  As such, it is of uttermost importance for this entity to report African tragedies with adequate urgency, precision, and sensitivity. 

While social media is an important and powerful tool, it is too prone to misinformation. The Sudan massacre is a great illustration of this; over the last week, folks on social media have shared inconsistent data related to the crisis. Traditional media has a key role in mitigating some of this misinformation and should never be supplementary to social media. 

Simply put, the media has a moral obligation to report on African tragedies and to report on them well. Until then, it remains up to us and the tools at our disposal (as imperfect as they may be) to tell these narratives. 

About the Author

Amy Oloo completed her master’s in International Affairs at the American University of Paris and has a keen interest in issues that pertain to intersectional feminism. 

Blog posts by this author:

Women and the peace process

Women in conflict: untold narratives in the media

Mental illness and violence against women 

Erasure of Black women in the fourth feminist wave