12 guidelines journalists should follow while reporting rape & seхual violence crimes

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What’s Reported VS What Happens

Journalists and news reporters should use the following guidelines to demonstrate more sensitivity and compassion while covering seхual assault and domestic violence cases:

1) Do not reveal the identity of the survivor. This includes any detail about her which can identify her including her name, her friends, her family, her age, her dress, the survivor’s profession (whether she was a prostitute,a call girl,a journo-we do not want to know) etc.

2) Use the word survivor instead of the word victim. If the survivor is no longer amongst us,use some other compassionate word.

3) Do not use the word ‘alleged’. The use of this word has negative connotations. And it looks as if the survivor is making false charges against the perpetrator. Instead, have your scripts reveal who is making the claim by using phrases such as “police say” or “prosecutors say” followed by the substance of the allegation.

4) Do not say “victim admits, confesses”. Both “admits” and “confesses” imply responsibility and shame, removing the victim’s agency in their recovery and implicating the victim in the violence.

5) Do not say ‘was raped/got raped'; Instead say-‘A man raped her’. The use of passive tense in this way does two things: first, it makes the rapist invisible; second, it fails to make explicit that there was a person responsible for seхually assaulting the victim.

The goal is to use accountable language that focuses attention on the person committing the crime.

6) Do not use victim blaming language.

7) Do not use words like ‘engaging in’. The word “engage” is defined as “to bring together” or “to induce to participate.”

The implication in such language is that the victim was an active participant who was causally involved in making the crime happen, rather than a recipient of the unilaterally harmful conduct of another.

This minimizes and hides the true violence of an assault, makes it difficult for the reader to comprehend the acts as unwanted violations, and allows society to rationalize, justify and excuse seхual violence (Bavelas & Coates, 2001).

8) Do not use the word ‘fondle’ – “Fondle”, as a verb, is defined as “to handle, stroke or caress lovingly.” This conveys the idea that seхual abuse is pleasant and gentle, which undermines our ability to see the behavior as harmful criminal activity.

9) Do not use words like seх/intercourse to describe rape and seхual assault. The use of romantic words blurs an important line between seхual pleasure and criminal violence.

10) While reporting domestic violence, avoid sentences like, “The children were absent and unharmed.” All children are harmed when domestic violence is present at home; even if they escape physical harm, they are psychologically harmed and suffer from emotional trauma.

11) Do not use statistics to justify or exaggerate anything unless you are able to give a reliable source.

12) Do not mention how the careers of the perpetrators will be demolished (This was done in the Steubenville case, Dominic Strauss-Kahn case and Tejpal case). The careers of the said powerful men were setback/destroyed by their own actions and not because the rape survivor reported the case.
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Indian Exponent: 12 guidelines journalists should follow while reporting rape & seхual violence crimes
12 guidelines journalists should follow while reporting rape & seхual violence crimes
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