Reporting on Violence against Women and Girls

21 October 2020

Journalism serving the public interest is an essential lever in the fight against violence against women and girls (VAWG). While coverage has improved over the past few years in many parts of the world, current reporting on gender-based violence still far from accurately depicts the extent and depth of what may be described as a global but silent epidemic.

Far too often, violence against women and girls, if at all reported, is relegated to the sidelines or circumscribed as a family affair, as a personal problem, or framed in a sensationalist way that does not seize the gravity of, nor accurately depicts, the situation as a high-risk issue of public interest.

Unique in its kind, the handbook is an informative and practical resource for media professionals on how to report on gender-based violence. In addition to its accessible format, it is structured to facilitate its use in fully busy news desks with tight deadlines in sight. Divided into two main chapters, the handbook features specific information on 10 selected topics relative to VAWG, and offers general recommendations for ethical journalistic practice in reporting on gender-based violence.

The first chapter provides basic knowledge and references on 10 thematic areas:
  • Cyberbullying and online harassment of women journalists
  • Early marriages or child marriages
  • Female genital mutilation/cutting
  • Forced marriages
  • Gender-specific foeticide and infanticide
  • Sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape
  • So-called honour crimes
  • Trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants
  • Violence against women in conflicts
  • Violence by an intimate partner or ex-partner and domestic murders
It gives media professionals some recommendations and examples of good practice. The handbook also intends to help journalists better tackle the dilemmas they face when reporting on those gender-specific matters.

Each thematic sub-chapter includes the sections Definition, Facts and figures, Explanations and background, as well as Advice and good practices on how to cover the topic. It also contains a Glossary with main notions, and a list for useful Resources with regard to the subject matter. Adopting a global scope, the handbook demonstrates how each of these types of violence occurs as much in developing as in developed countries, and therefore concerns us all.

The second chapter provides general recommendations on how to address, frame and cover stories on violence against women and girls. It provides practical advice on key steps in the reporting and editing process, such as assuring the sense of dignity, safety and trust with interviewees, informed consent, responsive listening, choice of location, cultural sensitivity, choice of interpreter, interviewing children, choice of images and so forth.

A final section contains a list of International Declarations, Resolutions and Conventions.

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