Best Practice Tips


Best Practice Tips for Reporting on Violence Against Women

10 steps to reporting violence against women responsibly and accurately

1. Respect women

Report violence against women in a way that upholds the victim-survivor’s right to dignity and does notcompromise their safety or anonymity.

Don’t sensationalise or trivialise violence with the use of clickbait headlines, overly dramatic language, excessive

details about the abuse, or personal details such as their transgender identity or their involvement in pornography or selling sex.

2. Include diverse voices

Represent diverse stories by including the voices of women not seen, heard or read about in news and current affairs. For example, older women, minority ethnic women, disabled women, etc.

3. Name the cause; gender inequality

Be clear about the cause of violence against women; gender inequality. Men’s violence against women and girls stems from men having access to power in our society, over and above women. This power imbalance leads to sexist beliefs, misogyny and ultimately violence against women and girls.

Don’t excuse men’s violence with alcohol, mental health, financial pressures or stress. These issues may exacerbate violence, but they are never the cause of it. Learn more about what to avoid here.

Don’t report on what a woman was wearing, what they had to drink, if they had an affair, or give any other ‘explanation’ for the violence. This is irrelevant. Perpetrators are responsible for their actions, not the victim / survivor.

When covering any form of violence - including harmful traditional practices, like forced marriage or female genital mutilation - be clear this violence is rooted in misogyny. Don’t stigmatise any ethnic group or religion. To learn more about harmful traditional practices read our BLOG.

4. Name the crime

Use words that accurately describe the crime: violence against women, domestic abuse, rape, murder, child sexual abuse, emotional abuse, coercive control; instead of sex, sex case, domestic dispute, sex scandal, sex affair etc. For more examples see our language guide here.

5. Consider how you present the perpetrator

Avoid quoting the perpetrator. It can normalise their attitudes and behaviour and traumatise victim / survivors.

Use active voice when describing perpetrator’s actions, i.e. ‘The perpetrator forced the survivor to…’.

Name the current or previous relationship between the survivor and perpetrator. Most violence is perpetrated by someone the victim / survivor knows.

Don’t focus on the impact of the crime on the perpetrator, instead focus on the impact of the crime on the survivor.

6. Know when to use victim or survivor

Use victim when discussing the crime or criminal ustice system, or when a woman describes herself as one. Use survivor when referring to the woman in all other instances.

Don’t name victims of violence against women in ongoing cases, even when it is legal to do so. Only use a woman’s name if you have her explicit permission.

Use victim or the woman’s name when an attack has resulted in death.

7. Place voices of experts and survivors at the centre of the story

Put the victim-survivor at the centre of the story by focusing on how the violence has affected them. Don’t give the perpetrator’s excuses a platform.

Ask expert women’s organisations for comment and source case studies through them.

8. Use statistics to show the prevalence of VAWG

Individual stories of violence against women are not one-off events. Use statistics to show that violence against women happens frequently and individual incidents are part of a much larger problem.

9. Select images thoughtfully

Don’t use images that contribute to harmful stereotypes or objectify women. We have diverse and ethical free-to-use stock images available. We offer a free selection of ethical and diverse stock images to illustrate violence against women and girls.

10. Always include helplines,it can save lives

Your story might affect women who have experienced or are experiencing the same violence that you are reporting on.

Providing sources of support can encourage women to seek help. List of helplines is available in. Copy and paste them from here.

Download our best practice tips here

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