Hacked Off has today published a briefing on misreporting of fatal domestic abuse in the press. Five featured articles illustrate how expert guidelines on domestic abuse reporting have been ignored.
Alongside women’s advocacy campaigners and domestic violence experts, Hacked Off is calling for protections to be enshrined in the Editors’ Code of Practice (a proposed clause is set out below).
Lisa King, Director of Communications, Refuge, said,
We know how serious the consequences of unethical, sexist and inaccurate press portrayals of fatal domestic abuse are, leading wider society to dismiss warning signs and underestimate the danger posed by men who go on to carry out these horrific murders.
Since the introduction of the guidelines, this dangerous reporting has not stopped and that is why we support Hacked Off’s call for an effective and enforceable clause to be added to the Editor’s Code so that there is a responsible and appropriate approach to reporting.
Anthea Sully, Chief Executive, White Ribbon, said,
Press reporting that promotes myths around fatal domestic abuse demeas victims and, by reinforcing commonly held beliefs, puts people in danger. As an organisation that looks to change the cultures that can lead to violence against women we call on the press to implement code change urgently
Hacked Off Boardmember and journalist Emma Jones said,
For too long, reporting of domestic violence in the press has been dangerously poor.
Coverage has sought to justify the actions of perpetrators. The conduct of victims has been questioned, if not blamed. The dignity of women who have lost their lives has been forsaken for a gorier, more compelling story.
Until domestic violence reporting guidelines are reflected in a standards code which is properly enforced, press reporting will not improve.
Campaigners and national experts on domestic violence are leading calls for code change.
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A better way to report on domestic violence: proposed clause
Reporting incidents of domestic violence
1) In cases where a woman has been killed by a partner, former partner or other family member, language which appears to justify the murder or otherwise blame the victim for her death should be avoided.
2) Speculative references to factors which may have motivated the killing should be avoided, for example “reasons” or “triggers” or describing the crime as an uncharacteristic or random event.
3) Crimes involving death or injury perpetrated by a partner, former partner or family member should be referred to as domestic violence.
4) Refrain from trivialising language, and invasive or graphic details that compromise the dignity of the deceased woman or her surviving family members.
5) Refrain from speculation about the sexual histories of the victims of domestic violence.