Using Podcasts for Outreach on Societal Taboos

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Taboos are often created by outdated traditions and social norms, and misguided interpretations of religion. These taboos affect different segments of the community, such as women, minorities and people with disabilities. Taboos label, control choices and make people vulnerable to abuse and violation.

Podcasts are being used as an approach for education and outreach on social issues and societal taboos. In the regard, SOWT intended to employ podcast production to introduce key perspectives on social issues and raise awareness of human rights violations, as Podcasts are one way to provide information to the public on civil democracy and social development.

SOWT is a podcasting platform which produces and distributes high-quality audio programs in Arabic, with the goal of creating an environment in which dialogue on and discussion of topics important and sensitive to the Arab listener around the world is the norm. the programs and podcasts of SOWT succeeded to tackle many essential and sensitive social and economic issues in the Arab world, to mention for example, Eib (عيب) podcast (which means shame in Arabic);  “Eib” deals with social taboos by showcasing everyday personal stories shaped by societal norms and gender roles. It is one of the top podcasts produced by SOWT as it featured topics that highlight taboo subjects. These have included pornography, street harassment, honor killings, and abortion. Other difficult social topics have included divorce, disability, and interfaith marriages. A gender role topic addressed the distribution of household chores with couples.

Another example is Masaha (مساحة) (which means space in Arabic). This is a platform for activists to discuss social and economic issues from a feminist perspective. Each weekly podcast episode gathers a group of women from across the region. It invites them to discuss challenges, strategies and solution to the economic and social problems Arab women face today.

Podcasts are a dynamic platform that continues to grow rapidly, as have the number of global podcast listeners. As of August 2021, there are over 2 million podcasts and over 48 million episodes. Podcasts have reached a diverse group of listeners. Podcasts are especially popular among younger audiences (ages 12-34). Hosts are able to reach particular target audiences. This makes podcast production a powerful media tool. This is makes it a potential tool for promoting human rights. Podcasts offer a platform for raising issues of social justice. A vehicle for documenting stories. And a way to access decision makers and activate listeners.

Two other interesting examples highlight how podcasts are being used for documenting human rights stories:

New Tactics in Human Rights does not advocate for or endorse specific tactics, policies or issues.


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