Join our Campaign to report Violence Against Women and Girls in the Media in November

// 26 October 2010

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This is a guest post by Sian Norris.

Did you know that 25th November is the UN International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women?

To mark the date, we’re asking the media to dedicate ONE day for every week of November to report the terrifyingly high levels of violence against women and girls in the UK and around the world.

We ask you to dedicate a small space in your reporting once a week throughout November to say the following:

“It is estimated that this week in the UK 1.5 women have died as a result of domestic violence. A further 500 women who have experienced domestic violence in the last six months will commit suicide this year. Every minute in the UK the police will receive a call from a member of the public relating to domestic violence, resulting in over 570,000 calls each year. Domestic violence has the highest repeat rate of any crime and approximately 77% of domestic violence victims are women. An estimated 100,000 women in the UK will be raped every year, yet the conviction rate relating to reported attacks remains at only 6.5%. Rape is recognised internationally as a form of torture and weapon of war, and 1 in 3 women across the world will be raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime. An estimated 6500 girls in the UK are at risk of FGM.”

The level of violence against women and girls is news. The levels of rape, of abuse, of murder. But it generally isn’t reported as news, precisely because it is so common. When it is reported, it is framed around ideas of provocation or a ‘crime of passion’, or the victim is painted as somehow to blame.

There are many ways in which this information could be incorporated into your reporting. You could report the whole paragraph, once a week throughout November. For 2 weeks you could report the domestic violence statistics, and then dedicate 2 weeks to reporting about rape. You could dedicate the 25th November to the issue of violence against women and girls, running a comprehensive feature on the subject.

Alternatively, you could spend time each week focusing on specific forms of violence against women and girls, including rape, domestic violence and female genital mutilation.

We need to spread the message that violence against women and girls is everywhere, and needs to be stopped.

We need to emphasise the message that a victim of violence is never to blame.

We need to enforce the reality that the only person at fault is the perpetrator.

Amnesty International has called violence against women and girls one of the greatest human rights violations of our time. We ask you, for the month of November, to join us in condemning this epidemic of violence, and to call for its end.

Statistic sources:

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(Edited to reformat HTML in links to staistics sources)

Comments From You

sianushka // Posted 26 October 2010 at 2:36 pm

this is the statement i have sent to a variety of news outlets to try and encourage them to devote some time over november to exposing how common, how ubiquitious vawg is. the motivation was that vawg is rarely reported in the news, or if it, it is a side issue to a “bigger” story, e.g. raoul moat. this has resulted in a feeling that vawg is inevitable, one of those things. it certainly isn’t seen as news, precisely because it is so common. The idea is to try and ask some media outlets to report the numbers. to expose the truth.

Helen G // Posted 26 October 2010 at 2:39 pm

Thanks Sian. I hope we at TFW can report on the stats during November too.

Lyndal Bale // Posted 27 October 2010 at 10:37 am

Trouble is Violence against women is perpetrated largely by MEN, (yes, I know, and some crazy women), but we never say so directly. Only some men have taken it on board and those are probably the ones who already respect women. It seems to me that Men have to come out and shame their “brotherhood”. Men have to make violence unpopular, unfashionable, not the male way to behave, and be bothered to say so out loud. Traditionally, however, men react against being told how to behave, especially by women! Quite a tricky problem!

Lyndal Bale // Posted 27 October 2010 at 10:49 am

Are you putting this campaign on Facebook?

sianushka // Posted 27 October 2010 at 11:00 am

i’ve created a facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/editgroup.php?gid=162290250460849#!/home.php?sk=group_162290250460849

will spruce it up when i am back on my own computer

Jennifer Drew // Posted 27 October 2010 at 4:36 pm

Of course violence against women is overwhelmingly committed by men which is why it is essential we do not use passive language. Correct terminology should be ‘male violence against women’ because then the reader(s) will know which biological sex is committing these crimes against women. Omitting that taboo word ‘male(s)’ ensures male violence against women continues to be viewed as ‘isolated and individual acts’ committed by whom?

Women have never been accorded right of anonymity when male-dominated media reports a woman has committed a crime but that privilege is awarded to all men who commit violence against women. Just take a look at the headline next time male-centric media reports male violence against women. I guarantee headline will not contain word ‘male raped woman’ or male subjected woman to violence.’ Instead it will be ‘woman attacked and raped’ or ‘woman murdered.’ Convenient is it not and who benefits? Why men of course.

Men do not want to be reminded male violence against women is men’s problem and no this social issue will not disappear by hiding/ignoring/euphemising male accountability and male responsibility.

Once upon a time in the 1970s feminists spoke out against male violence against women – now I only hear ‘gendered violence against women’ or ‘violence against women.’

Such actions are a huge disserve to the vast numbers of women and girls routinely subjected to male violence and no these survivors do not want their male perpetrators’ accountability to remain hidden. Neither do they want male bystanders to continue to live in cloud cuckoo land by ‘claiming not my fault guv, wouldn’t happen if women didn’t do what men want or if women didn’t nag men!’

DE // Posted 27 October 2010 at 7:26 pm

Whilst we’re waiting for non-passive sentence structures to take effect, anybody else got any pratical solutions on reducing the amount of violence against women ? I’m stumped myself.

sianushka // Posted 28 October 2010 at 10:13 am

good question DE! the aim of this campaign is to try and end the news’ silence, the invisibility.

i don’t know if that will effect stopping or helping to stop it happening, but maybe will raise awareness? i don’t know. apart from one journalist, i have had no responses so far :-(

finn mckay at the conference on Saturday said that women were made to feel ashamed about the violence that is committed against them but it is society’s shame. this really stood out for me. society refuses to take responsibility, it paints victims and survivors as to blame, it says it is their shame. so this is to try and ask society – which the media reflects – to take some responsibility.

Lyndal Bale // Posted 28 October 2010 at 10:42 am

“it is society’s shame. this really stood out for me. society refuses to take responsibility, it paints victims and survivors as to blame, it says it is their shame.”

Here we go again – SOCIETY’S SHAME. Not MEN’S SHAME. What the man meant was MEN REFUSE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. It is men who cannot bear to name their own sex, so they cloak their own shame under the word “Society” which also makes women responsible, not just men. Women are not responsible for this violence (in the main). But they have to “Be Nice” as in point 6. above, so they allow the men to get away with this nomenclature. The Media is still a male domain. Do you know about WACC World Association for Christian Communication http://www.waccglobal.org? They are doing much to promote balanced news reporting in the media, and conduct regular global surveys to monitor progress. ( By the way, I am not religious!)

sianushka // Posted 28 October 2010 at 11:10 am

firstly, finn mckay is a woman, so it wasn’t :

‘What the man meant was MEN REFUSE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.’

and yes, i agree with you, it is male shame.

Feminist Avatar // Posted 28 October 2010 at 1:03 pm

While I don’t disagree with the general point that we don’t use the term ‘men’ enough when talking about VAW, I think the reason ‘society’ is useful is that ‘men’ has a tendency to individualise the problem in the way that society does not allow. So, it becomes easy to say- yes men commit violence against women, but I am not one of those men, so it’s not my problem. The use of ‘Society’ drives home that it is your problem whether you engage in violence yourself or not- and that it is something that requires change at a societal as well as an individual level.

Also, as 16 days incorporates campaigners discussing many forms of violence- incl those by the state and institutions- the use of ‘men’ can again put the focus on to one-on-one violence between men and women, rather than state organised and structural violence that is bigger than the actors who perpetrate the violence (which yes are ofen but not always men).

Lyndal Bale // Posted 28 October 2010 at 1:07 pm

Ah, apologies to Finn McKay. But my message is the same. We women also buy into this “Cloaking” vocabulary because we need to be “Nice” so as not to upset anyone, especially not the men! I am not getting at anyone personally. I am trying to point out that we all do this and we must start to get real about it and call upon the men to own up.

DE // Posted 28 October 2010 at 1:41 pm

Men will see themselves as individuals, and will not take responsibility for another man’s crime – no matter how much of a media campaign is mounted and no matter how much you believe they should. Is there a plan ‘B’ ?

also as an aside – Interesting to see that Finn Mackey describes herself as radical lesbian feminist – some page on this site. (sorry I don’t have the link). When she was thought to be a man – her choice of word ‘society’, meant that he was seeking to cloaking ‘his’ shame at being a man. What to make of her choice ‘society’ now she is identified as a RLF ?

sianushka // Posted 28 October 2010 at 4:33 pm

a plan b?

continuing the fight to end vawg in all it’s forms, continuing the fight to end the silence around vawg, repeating this campaign every november until i get some responses…continuing discussions about vawg and reiterating the messages and shouting out and stopping it.

i felt that finn meant that society is complicit in this silence, and the structures maintain this silence, and the structures encourage women to feel ashamed, when it is society that is ashamed. and society is patriarchal.

i am stumped on facebook – i can’t seem to make the group totally open. have gone i to edit group and made members open, but still have to approve them. any ideas?

Politicalguineapig // Posted 28 October 2010 at 11:03 pm

DE: My personal plan b would be to teach women that it’s ok to be violent. If men were as scared of women as we are of them, it’d be quite a different world.

sarah // Posted 28 October 2010 at 11:18 pm

DE said “Men will see themselves as individuals, and will not take responsibility for another man’s crime – no matter how much of a media campaign is mounted and no matter how much you believe they should. Is there a plan ‘B’ ?”

Why should ANY person, regardless of gender, take responsibility for the crimes of another? All one man has in common with another is the accident of birth that is gender.

Plan B is to recognise that violence is not about gender…but that’s hardly going to go down well with feminists is it?

Lyndal Bale // Posted 29 October 2010 at 9:44 am

But violence against women and girls is about gender. It is endemic and hitherto has been accepted as almost normal by the female half of the world. It seems to me that we have to educate the men to learn to control their superior physical strength for the protection of women and children. But Protection can mean different things to different people. Unfortunately before feminism, male protection came at a price, in return for sex on demand, complete control over his woman’s life, money, children, and decision-making, to name but a few. Now that women in the west have equality under the law, and marital rape is a crime, we have had to give up the chivalry that was once allocated to us. Men are angry that their boats have been rocked and they are no longer the unassailable captains, so they are hitting back in the only way they know how. Sorry, I know you know all this already.

Is “feminist” a bad word on this blogsite? I am proud to think I am a feminist. In my opinion, all women fighting for equal rights are feminists. Surely you are not suggesting that we become violent to show men that we are the same as them?

I think we need more impact in the media. Headline

HAVE YOU HIT A WOMAN THIS WEEK? WHY?

sianushka // Posted 29 October 2010 at 9:58 am

sarah

of course some violence is about gender. that’s like saying that racially motivated violence has nothing to do with racism, or violence motivated by homophobia has nothing to do with homophobia!

violence against women is normal in our society. i think kat banyard writes about it really well in the equality illusion, when she talks about street harassment. when a man yells at a woman on the street that he’s like to f*** her, he is echoing a culture that sees women as ‘other’ that culture teaches men are subservient and endlessly sexually available. from there, it is no great leap to treating women as objects that you are entitled to hurt.

that does not mean that non gendered violence doesn’t exist, or that women aren’t also violent towards their partners, but some violence, esp male violence against women, is gendered, and is related to gender.

and because it is, and because it is committed by men in a patriarchal society, women are made to feel ashamed of the violence that happens to them, rather than male/patriarchal society owning up to and facing and ending the violence they sanction.

Josh // Posted 30 October 2010 at 7:01 pm

Targetting men in general will only serve to alienate them. Noone wants to be told that they are likely abusers and suggesting this will not achieve any good. If a man hits a woman then that is because they have a serious problem, not because they are men.

Lyndal Bale // Posted 31 October 2010 at 12:03 pm

Josh, I think we all understand that. No-one has suggested that a man hits a women “because he is a man”. That is a complete non-sequitor. So if men in general are targetted does it mean that each individual man thinks he is being targetted personally if he happens to read it? I suspect that is his problem? The question is do all men “think” this way?

Josh // Posted 31 October 2010 at 9:26 pm

What I meant was that I disagree with Lyndal Bales statement which seems to suggest that men as a whole must take responsibility for the actions perpetrated by those men who do abuse women.

For me this line of thought does not make sense; why should one man feel remotely responsible for the actions of a rapist?

By all means I agree that more should be done to end abuse, but I think that the problem is societies, not just the male genders.

sianushka // Posted 1 November 2010 at 10:04 am

josh, i really disagree with your argument.

firstly, it has precedents. drunk driving ads target all drivers. no one watches them and yells ‘this is offensive! i would never drink drive! i can’t believe this ad is on tv!’ it is just accepted that public safety ads air to all the public, so all the public are aware. it doesn’t mean that the govt (for example) thinks every single car owner is a drink driver, or every single car owner speeds or skips lights.

secondly, no one is saying all men are abusers or potential abusers. anywhere. but most abusers of women are men when it comes to DV and rape. and the people who are most able to stop rape and DV are men. either by men challenging their friends when they make rape jokes, or men challenging their friends who may be absuers, or absuers not doing it, or men standing up and saying vawg is unacceptable (http://www.womensaid.org.uk/page.asp?section=0001000100100016&sectionTitle=Real+Man+Campaign). male politicians getting vawg on the political agenda, men in the public eye making statements. men have a lot of power in this country and they have a lot of power to end vawg.

we need men to join hands with women and help end vawg, rather than hand wringing and explaining to women that not all men are violent. we know that. we know that not all men are violent. we want to put an end to violence and its causes.

Lyndal Bale // Posted 1 November 2010 at 10:26 am

Well Said, Sianuska. I totally support your ideas here.

masculinist // Posted 1 November 2010 at 12:58 pm

men should not hit women, full stop.

We should be proud of being a man,

not a coward that hides behind violence.

Nothing wrong in being a strong man,

but got to use strength in a better way than just violence.

Political guineapig ….

Do you really think its ok for women to be violent ? Its not ok for anyone to be violent. How would you make men scared of women ??

DE // Posted 1 November 2010 at 1:58 pm

@Sianushka

I’m not persuaded by your example. Drivers are the sole focus of drink-driver ads because only drivers are capable of committing the offence of “driving whilst under the influence of alcohol”. Nor are those promoting the campaign identified as “non-drivers”. However, there is no offence per se of being a male person and assaulting a female person, instead the offence was made that if a ‘person’ assaults another person, that in itself constitutes the offence.

The campaigns that appear on this site seem to be unconcerned with female assaults on other females. ( I see Lyndal appeared to be suggesting that that such violence was only inflicted by “crazy “ women. No sane women would attack another ? I’m not sure I could fully lend my support to that school of thought.)

It is intrinsic to your campaigns to limit your protests against men. People are tribal and the majority of men will not engage with you, if you (BTW I don’t mean you as a person in particular) insist on this “us verses them” attitude. Why not campaign for an end to all violence irrespective of the genders involved ? A plan B could be to lend your considerable efforts to encouraging people to drinking sensibly – I’ll bet that success in this direction will reduce the violence against women and girls.

sianushka // Posted 1 November 2010 at 2:41 pm

DE

no one (not me anyway) is denying that women can be violent towards other women or that domestic violence can be committed by women against a female or male partner. i’ve had experience of this within my family and friends and so would be the last person to deny it.

i don’t understand why we have to caveat every mention of vawg with ‘we know not all men are violent and we know women can be violent too’.

it should be self evident and all it does is distract from the – to me – vital message that the levels of male violence against women and girls are huge: 100,000 rapes a year, 1.5 women murdered a week by male intimate partner or former partner, that 500 women victims of male violence every 6 months kill themselves…the evidence is there, the numbers are there. and we know that many of the perpetrators are getting away with it.

i explicitly said in my previous post that men and women need to hold hands on this, work together. it isn’t about us vs them, as you suggest. it is about working together to end violence. i know you said you weren’t explicitly referring to you=me. but if non violent men are going to be ‘put off’ by having to recognise that their fellow men are responsible for the majority of male vawg, then they should really take a look at themselves and ask themselves why they don’t want to support a campaign that seeks to raise awareness of a horrible crime.

one would hope that most people would agree that all violence is bad and no one should be violent towards anyone. but there are specific issues and questions and assumptions surrounding vawg that differ from, say, random street attacks or knife crime.

no one says to the organisers of the anti knife crime initiatives that they should not focus on just knife crime and should focus on, for example, domestic violence. because, although they are both violent crimes, and although there are similarities in cultural motivations which need to be explored, the strategies we use to tackle one type of violence may not necessarily work for the other.

i would be wary of linking vawg with alcohol as it would suggest that it only or more often happens when the perpetrator is drunk, or could easily shift to the all too current ‘she was drunk so it was her fault’ narrative for the victim. also, in a lot of media reports, if the perpetrator is drunk, it has been used to mitigate his responsibility – e.g. ‘he was drunk and lost control’.

angercanbepower // Posted 1 November 2010 at 3:04 pm

@DE,

Why not campaign for an end to all violence irrespective of the genders involved ?

You’ve answered your own question here. Why just limit it to violence? Why not campaign against anyone doing anything to anyone else which the latter does not want the former to do? People against unpleasantness!

Your question weakens your argument. You need to pick out specific instances of injustice in order for your opposition to be meaningful.

Your point about framing it as “male violence against women” not being a successful strategy is much stronger, though. I think you’re basically right – it just makes most men hostile and defensive in my experience.

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