Twenty-five-year-old Ragae Hammidi of Casa Blanca, Morocco wears two hats. Five days a week, she attends a business school. But on weekends, she is a journalist who goes out on the street with a small camera, shooting videos of people and issues that go untold by professional media outlets.
“I report what is happening to girls and young women. It’s my story. If those responsible for reporting it do not, then I have a duty to tell it,” Hammidi says.
Hammidi shares an example. Morocco has a law allowing rapists to avoid charges if they marry their victims. In March 2012, a young woman who had been forced to marry her rapist committed suicide. It was local citizens who reported it while the professional media, fearing official reprisals, kept quiet.
“I report what is happening to girls and young women. It’s my story. If those responsible for reporting it do not, then I have a duty to tell it.”
“Can you imagine a young girl first getting raped and then being forced to marry the same guy who hurt her? There are many such stories in our country that are not reported by the media. So it is up to us citizens to talk about it. We pick up our cameras and mobile phones and tell the story as we see it happening,” she says.
Hammidi spoke of her experiences at the 1st Global Forum on Media and Gender held here last week. Organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the forum aims to increase participation of women in the media and also their access to new communication technologies.
Hammidi was trained by Global Girls in Media, a development media organisation that teaches high school girl students how to become citizen journalists and report on gender issues.
There are several thousand citizen journalists – most without any form of training – reporting today from Morocco and other Arab countries, including Sudan, Tunisia, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and, most notably, Syria.