Journalists exposing violence against women are making a huge difference

Today our coalition of more than 40 UK women’s organisations has announced the winners of our first ever Media Awards – launched because we thought it was time to start recognising the brilliant work some journalists are doing to expose the scale and nature of abuse of women and girls across the UK.

The winners include a powerful feature by Salma Haidrani in The Debrief investigating the extent of so called ‘honour-based’ violence in the UK; ITV Exposure’s documentary revealing the child sexual abuse committed by Clement Freud; an opinion piece by Lola Okolosie in the Guardian exploring the systemic problem of sexual harassment in UK schools; and recognition for ‘new journalist’ Samara Linton, who wrote for Black Ballad about women detained in Yarl’s Wood detention centre.

There is a lot of denial about the extent of violence against women which takes place in so many different forms, and there’s about its impact. What many of our winners have in common is that they deal exactly with the ‘everydayness’ of abuse – from sexual harassment in schools being routinely brushed off, to the indefinite detention of abused women in our asylum system, and to the failure of so many over years to listen to the survivors of child sexual abuse.

The journalists who choose to write in this area – and the editors who commission and publish – are making a huge difference to our society’s ability to name and then respond to violence against women and girls.

Too often, media representation has been part of the problem. News reports which imply under age sexual violence victims consented, comment and editorial which indulge victim-blaming myths, and feature investigations which are salacious and prurient but still fail to scrutinize perpetrators of abuse, thus helping to keep them invisible.

We’ve awarded a Wooden Spoon to the Daily Mail for an article which claims that the “only way” to prevent women from becoming victims of revenge pornography is for women to change their behavior, entirely overlooking the actions of controlling and abusive men.

Our Awards judges lamented the “staggering hypocrisy” in the fact that the article, which reprimands women for “posing for nude photos and videos” was published by an outlet which simultaneously trades in ‘side-bar’ images of women, some of which are semi-nude, and many of which are taken without the women’s knowledge or consent.

We had more than 150 nominations for these Awards, and a stellar line up of judges who were really impressed with the work. We hope the recognition leads to more agenda-setting journalism next year.

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