When Brazilian journalist and filmmaker Roberta Salomone first proposed the idea of producing a documentary from the perspective of children living in situations of domestic violence, she was met with disinterest or skepticism. “I wanted to understand why we weren’t talking more about children living in situations of domestic violence, but many people told me the subject was too depressing or not interesting.”
However, one year later, Roberta’s documentary, “Os Filhos da Maria da Penha”1 was being nominated for an Emmy Award nomination, and had opened up a conversation about the impacts of domestic violence on children not only in Brazil, but also in many other countries.
Roberta was already an experienced journalist with Globo News, one of Brazil’s main news channels, when she started work on the documentary. Her initial interest in human rights led her into journalistic reporting which then developed into a focus on domestic violence, child sexual exploitation and child marriage, and sexual harassment.
When reporting on these topics, Roberta uses statistics from different official sources and databases from international organisations to enhance the accuracy of reporting.
Roberta decided to join the free online course on Communicating Statistics for Gender Equality, developed by UN Women and PARIS21, as she knew the importance of statistics to conveying facts and believed that the course would enhance her ability to communicate the issues that she cares about: “Data and statistics are important, but even more so is the ability to interpret data in the correct way. I think that’s always a challenge for us journalists. Statisticians and journalists should be best friends. … the way you interpret data can change everything: in a negative and positive way.”
Roberta continued, “When you add statistics to a story,
it becomes much more compelling. But we live in an era of fake news. The course not only helped me to use data, but also how to find data that I can trust. Interpreting data is a huge responsibility.”
In Brazil, Roberta says that rising intolerance impinge on the quality of life of many people: men, women and children across different social groups, and particularly the LGBTQI community. Roberta feels that it is important for people from different genders and social backgrounds to stand up for one another: whether or not we are directly affected, this is part of a bigger human rights issue. “We have high numbers of femicide and domestic violence, and so I think people are trying to understand more about gender equality to tackle this.”
Roberta believes that technology can help to bring people together in this struggle. By volunteering on telephone helplines, apps to facilitate reporting of domestic violence or by raising difficult topics in the public sphere, there are lots of ways in which technology can unite people and start to tackle domestic violence. As part of her masters thesis, Roberta is keen on exploring the linkage between domestic violence, technology and the COVID-19 pandemic in more detail.
1 Brazil's Federal Law 11340, also known as Lei Maria da Penha targets gender based violence in Brazil, with the specific aim of reducing domestic violence in the country. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lei_Maria_da_Penha.
Explore the partner stories series to learn more about the PARIS21 network and its impact:
- Inclusive livelihoods for all: why subnational gender statistics in the Philippines matter (PARIS21, Philippine Statistics Authority, Philippine Statistical Research and Training Institute)
- Communicating on statistics to fight against VAWG in Jamaica (PARIS21, UN Women)
- Planning ahead with statistics to leave no one behind in Trinidad and Tobago (PARIS21, UN Women)