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IMPRESS Call for Evidence - response from Zero Tolerance

Our media monitoring shows that many journalists, editors and media producers continue to resort to harmful stereotypes when reporting on violence against women (VAW), contributing to a culture where such violence is normalised and accepted.

Zero Tolerance welcomes the opportunity to offer our expertise to IMPRESS. We strongly recommend that existing clauses in the IMPRESS Standards Code are updated as follows to reflect current knowledge and understanding of violence against women.

Journalism Online

  • Journalists and content creators should treat photos, videos and audio with skepticism and caution.
  • Comments under articles about VAW should be turned off or stringently moderated.

Discrimination

  • Reporting should treat all cases of VAW with seriousness, regardless of who the victim is.
  • Reporting should never sensationalize a victim’s gender identity.
  • Reporting must not stigmatize any ethnic group or religion.
  • Reporting should incorporate quotations from a range of sources, including from experts such as local and national organisations working to end violence against women.

Harassment

  • Reporting should not name victims of VAW, even in cases where doing so would not be prohibited by law.

Accuracy

  • Reporting should acknowledge that men’s violence against women is caused by gender inequality and an unequal distribution of power that affects women disproportionately more than men.
  • Reporting should provide a ‘bigger picture’ by placing individual incidents in a wider social context.
  • Reporting should never excuse, justify or perpetuate myths about violence against women.
  • Reporting must portray perpetrators of violence accurately as men, boys, husbands, fathers etc. instead of using terms such as brute, beast, fiend or monster.
  • Reporting should not include unnecessary detail of crimes.
  • Reporting should never imply in any way that the victim was even partially to blame.
  • Reporting should never objectify women.
  • Reporting of commercial sexual exploitation, such as web cams, prostitution or pornography, should include information about dangers and harms.

Public Safety

  • Images used to illustrate articles dealing with violence against women should not victimise or objectify women.
  • All reporting featuring violence against women should include information about at least one appropriate helpline.

By supporting the media with improved standards, we can ensure that press coverage contributes to preventing, rather than exacerbating, violence against women. To read our recommendations in full, click HERE

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