Our Watch, with funding from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, has released new editorial guidelines for reporting on violence against women and children.
The guidelines, titled How to report on violence against women and their children provide practical tips for reporters, editors and news directors on how best to present information in stories where violence is gendered.
The guidelines aim to provide journalists with a deeper understanding of the complexities of violence perpetrated against women who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and against women from other groups who experience more than one form of discrimination.
They include guidance on reporting on acts of violence against older women, migrant and refugee women, women living with a disability and women who identify as LGBTIQ+.
Our Watch Ambassador Tarang Chawla experienced the impact of harmful reporting when his sister, Nikita, was murdered, and subsequently during the trial of the man who murdered her.
Chawla has since been working to raise awareness of the need for sensitive, evidence-based reporting.
Chawla said: “When Niki was murdered, so much of the media reporting was about the colour of her skin, our cultural background, or in some way excusing the perpetrator’s responsibility for criminal action because of ‘culture’ or ‘honour killings’, when all it was, was one man choosing to take the life of a woman.”
He continued: “When we read responsible media reporting, we understand the driving forces behind men’s violence against women and we understand the role everyone plays in tackling the sexist attitudes and damaging stereotypes that can lead to it.
“But when the media doesn’t do this, unfortunately, our understanding in the community gets clouded and we try to look for other, less accurate, reasons and ways to make sense of these crimes.”
How to report on violence against women and their children was developed in close consultation with senior leaders in the Victorian media and from Aboriginal communities, as well as those representing older women, migrant and refugee women, women living with a disability and women who identify as LGBTIQ+.
The guidelines are intended for editors, producers, news directors, journalists, photographers, videographers and other professionals working across TV, radio, online and print media in Victoria, and are available in 15 languages.
For further information and to download the guidelines for free, click here.
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