Media construction of homicide or attempted homicide of women by an intimate partner during Covid 19

Primor Shani

The media serves as a platform for public and political discourse, which impacts the structuring of social reality in shaping public opinion on various issues (Mccombs & Shaw, 1972). One of the topics frequently covered by the media is domestic violence, particularly intimate partner violence, which is defined as a social problem in Israel and globally (Alon-Bareket and Hoppong, 2014). The coverage of this topic has been amplified due to the coronavirus pandemic, which in turn has imposed social distancing protocols worldwide. As a result, the media, locally and globally, reported a dramatic increase in complaints of domestic violence, most commonly were cases of violence perpetrated by men against their spouses and children (Presser, 2020).

The peak of the coronavirus pandemic in Israel was in 2020. The reports published in the media, between the years of 2020-2021, focused mainly on 14 women who were murdered by their spouses and two more women who survived attempted murder. The focus of this current study was to examine the way in which the Israeli media structured the issue of intimate partner violence towards women, with an emphasis on murder and attempted murder during the first waves (1-3) of the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-2021). This timespan was chosen as the framework for the study based on the rationale that this period, characterized by a health crisis, could be a potential catalyst for increasing social problems. In addition, understanding the way in which the media explained this issue to the public, through words and visual depictions, may indicate their role in promoting preventative information and treatment options to the public.

In this study 570 articles, published in 2020-2021. In addition, a comparative case-study focused on the story of two women who survived an attempted murder. In this study, an analysis was carried out on both the content of the articles and the images that accompanied the articles.

The findings indicate that the number of articles written about Jewish women who were murdered were significantly greater than the number of reports written about non-Jewish women. Moreover, the number of articles published regarding attempted murder cases were significantly greater than the number of articles published about the cases of women who were murdered. The metaphors that accompanied these articles presented a dichotomous relationship between the victim and the aggressor. These were presented using words and phrasing of physical responses in order to describe how the media copes (or justifies or humanizes) with the murders. The murders and attempted murders gave rise to a series of initiatives to change the situation, most of which came from social organizations and individuals. This study also used the media coverage of the attempted murders of Liron Dror and Shira Isakov as a case study. The analysis of the coverage revealed the importance of Isakov’s decision, in comparison to Dror’s decision, to reveal her identity to the public from the beginning in a way that allowed the media to follow the story of her rehabilitation. Furthermore, thanks to her willingness to turn her story of survival into a lever of public influence, she was able to bring about the advancement of social and legislative initiatives in the field of violence against women. 

The study contributes to an understanding of the way in which the Israeli media structures social problems, such as domestic violence, and establishes public awareness in connection with them during a health crisis, through both overt and covert means. In addition, this study emphasizes the importance of cooperation with the victims, in cases of attempted murder, or the family, in cases of murder, with media coverage to maintain the continuity of reporting on this issue.

Last Updated Date : 11/06/2023