Women journalists and security

 

Women journalists in the eye of the storm

“Threats and violence against women journalists are on the rise in many regions of the world. In their work exposing injustices and bearing witness to human rights violations, women journalists are women human rights defenders and as such are in need of better security and protection mechanisms.”

Journalist Security Guide

Media bias in the UK

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets/hub.1326407570.html

Leveson Inquiry Must Address Sexist Media Stereotypes, Say Women’s Groups

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/jan/24/leveson-inquiry-sexist-media-stereotypes?CMP=twt_gu

The Leveson inquiry must address “sexist stereotypes” in the media, which could “condone violence against women and girls”, according to a group of key women’s organisations.

Speaking at the Leveson inquiry on Tuesday, a representative of the group accused some media outlets of feeding into myths about rape, which they argued could prevent some women coming forward to report the crime.

The media creates, reflects and enforces attitudes in society. Those who work in the media should be conscious of this and should actively seek not to reproduced attitudes which condone violence against women or girls,” said Marai Larasi from End Violence Against Women, a coalition of  40 women’s organisations.

Representatives of the women’s groups Equality Now, Eaves, Object and End Violence Against Women called on Lord Justice Leveson to ban highly sexualised images in newspapers, which they argued would not be broadcast pre-watershed on television.

Newspapers including the Sun, the Daily Star and the Sunday Sport were criticised for “relentlessly” objectifying women, portraying them “as a sum of sexualised body parts”, said Anna van Heeswijk, from anti-objectification of women organisation Object.

“We have to ask ourselves what kind of story does it tell to young people when men in newspapers wear suits, or sports gear, are shown as active participants, while women are sexualised objects who are essentially naked or nearly naked,” she said.

The groups are calling for any new regulation of the press to ban pictures of naked or semi-naked women in newspapers, arguing that the images would not be allowed in the workplace and should not be sold in an “unrestrained” manner at “children’s eye-level”.

Van Heeswijk accused tabloids that carry photographs of semi-naked women on page 3 of “creating a culture of fear which silences … anybody speaking out against the portrayal of women as sex objects”. She cited the example of former MP Clare Short who was branded a “fat” and “jealous” “killjoy” by the Sun when she spoke out against Page 3.

Several newspapers were singled out for criticism during the evidence given by the women’s groups. The Daily Telegraph was criticised for a report which they said suggested a man had murdered his wife after she changed her Facebook status to “single”, and said too often media reports of violence against women focused on the behaviour of the victim.

A Daily Mail report about six footballers being jailed after gang raping 12-year-old girls in a “midnight park orgy” was criticised for the use of the word “orgy” and for referring to the victims as “Lolitas”. Larasi told the inquiry: “Put the word ‘orgy’ in something and what you immediately do is grab the attention, it’s becoming titillating. The focus stays on the woman and what she did or didn’t do.”

When asked previously about this article a spokesman for Associated Newspapers said it appeared on Mail Online, not in the Daily Mail, and was based on a court report from a reputable news agency that contained the words “orgy” and “Lolitas”.

The groups also called on Leveson, charged with investigating the regulation of the media following the phone-hacking scandal, to replace the Press Complaints Commission with an independent body “with teeth” that women and women’s groups could complain to directly. The reporting of violence against women and girls needs to be more balanced and more context needs to be provided about its frequency, they added.

Journalists should also receive training on the “myths and realities” about violence against women and girls, and there should be a code of practice for the way “case studies” are dealt with, the groups said.

Jacqui Hunt from Equality Now said the groups did not want to curtail the freedom of the press but wanted more responsibility. “Freedom of the press, yes it’s really important, it’s key but we have to find a way of making sure that women are not sidelined [and] objectified,” she said.

One in four women abused

One in four women suffer sexual violence: study

Adele Horin
August 3, 2011 – 12:17AM

 

ONE in four women have been victims of sexual or domestic violence, or have
been stalked, according to a study into mental illness that found the median age
for being raped was 13.

It also found serious mental disorders and suicide attempts are prevalent
among women who had experienced these forms of gender-based violence.

Susan Rees, the lead researcher, from the school of psychiatry at the
University of NSW, said the impact of gender violence on women’s mental health
had been underestimated.

”This is a public health problem of some magnitude,” Dr Rees said.

The study, by a team of 14 psychiatrists, psychologists and statisticians
from the University of NSW and University of Melbourne, is published today in
the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association.

It is based on a survey of 4451 women aged 16 to 85, drawn from the Bureau of
Statistics 2007 National Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey. The survey is
representative of eight million women.

Previously unpublished figures show 27 per cent of women have experienced at
least one form of gender-based violence: about 8 per cent have been raped, 15
per cent have experienced sexual assault that did not involve penetration, 10
per cent have been stalked, and almost 8 per cent have been badly beaten by a
spouse or partner.

However, what shocked the authors was the strong association between the
women’s experience and serious mental illness. It was especially noticeable
among women with exposure to two or more forms of gender violence.

For example, among women with no exposure to gender violence, 28 per cent had
a serious diagnosed mental illness in their lifetime. But among those exposed to
two types of gender violence, 69 per cent had a serious mental illness. Among
those with exposure to three or more types of violence, almost 90 per cent had
illnesses such as anxiety disorders, substance abuse, or post traumatic stress
disorder, and nearly 35 per cent had attempted suicide.

”The violence has a serious impact on women’s ability to function, to work,
to sustain relationships, ” she said.

Gender-based violence was more prevalent among women from poorer backgrounds,
and the first occurrence was early – a median age of 12 for sexual assault, 13
for rape, 22 for being stalked, and 22 for violence from a partner.

The executive officer of the NSW Rape Crisis Centre, Karen Willis, said with
counselling soon after the event and support from family and friends, women had
every chance of quick recovery.

”If women leave it for 20 years and blame themselves, or if others tell them
to ‘get over it’, it’s more difficult,” she said. ”It’s the same with domestic
violence. If women get away, that’s important for their safety. But it takes
more than a house to recover from the impact on their mental health.”

Dr Rees said women’s services needed adequate funding to deal with serious
psychiatric problems and public education was needed to alter attitudes that
sanctioned violence against women.

This story was found at:
http://www.smh.com.au/national/one-in-four-women-suffer-sexual-violence-study-20110802-1i9za.html

Murder as an occupational hazard

I wrote this piece – Murder as an Occupational Hazard – in 2007 when 5 women’s bodies were found in Atlantic City, NJ.  I really wanted to stress how misogyny plays a role in serial killers who target women. Certainly, there are other “vulnerable populations” that these killers could target: runaways, drug dealers on the street, the elderly, the disabled, male prostitutes, etc. — but all too often the common denominator is gender, and profession, although clearly a factor, is secondary.

Recently, the bodies of 10 female sex workers were discovered in NY. Hopefully, it will spur more debate about legalizing (or not) prostitution, a culture that ‘permits’ gender-based violence, devaluing people (for whatever reason), impunity, and making heroes out of serial killers. I just want to add that in this discussion/debate, people need to address the prostitution of minors (johns that use them) and sexual trafficking.

Lust murder: Prostitutes as victims of throwaway capitalism

This is David Rosen’s take:

Many of the female victims of these horrendous murder sprees have been prostitutes. They tend to be young women in their 20s, lost to their birth families and community, and often on drugs. They seem like lost souls who have nothing left but their bodies to sell. They are throwaway living commodities of capitalism.

Getting away with murder on Long Island

This is Nancy Goldstein’s take:

It’s not yet clear whether one killer or multiple killers are responsible. No suspects have surfaced. But that’s not what makes this story really tragic. Some of those 10 people might be alive today if it hadn’t been for the lackluster response of law enforcement and the press coverage of the case — much of it sensationalist and dehumanizing — all because of the first victims’ sex-worker status.

Sexual assault and impunity on college campuses

To this day, a man’s future still has more value than the sexual assault of a woman. The concern is still placed on the career and potential of the man. In tonight’s 60 Minutes episode, Katie Couric interviewed Beckett Brennan, a college student sexually assaulted by 3 men.

Like many victims, she declined to press charges (it actually sounded like the police talked her out of it – they told her one victim was on the stand for 16 hours) but the case did come before a college panel. The college decided to: expel one student and put the two others on probation – one for a semester and one for one year. (One even went on to get a scholarship) Probation? For sexually assaulting one of their peers? Are you kidding me? The college spokesperson said these cases become a ‘she said – he said.’

In my opinion, when the phrase “she said – he said’ comes up – it means there’s doubt that the woman’s telling the truth. This phrase doesn’t come up when 2 men are involved. And it doesn’ t come up in other crimes (other than domestic violence and sexual harassment).

The case of Beckett Brennan

Here’s a good resource on this topic:

Sexual assault on campus A frustrating search for justice

According to a report funded by the Department of Justice, roughly one in five women who attend college will become the victim of a rape or an attempted rape by the time she graduates. But official data from the schools themselves don’t begin to reflect the scope of the problem. And student victims face a depressing litany of barriers that often either assure their silence or leave them feeling victimized a second time, according to a 12-month investigation by the Center for Public Integrity.

The probe reveals that students found “responsible” for alleged sexual assaults on campuses often face little or no punishment, while their victims’ lives are frequently turned upside down. Many times, victims drop out of school, while students found culpable go on to graduate.

Pakistan: Media get it wrong on rape

Really, mishandling rape cases in the media is not confined to Pakistan – it happens everywhere, but this article deals with how the media in Pakistan treat rape stories:

Violence against women: Victims:  Raped once, violated twice

Speaking on the occasion, Ahmar said cases of rape receive the most sensationalised coverage in the country, where the media often forgets that an ethical code exists and becomes totally blind to any ethical guidelines. In such reports, she said, the spot-light is on the victim while the culprit/s is almost always completely ignored. This gives the impression that the victim herself bears responsibility for the entire episode.

“Such reports create a sense of fear among parents and force them to forbid their daughters from going out, even to school,” she said, adding that, “The effort has been made not to point fingers at the media, or alienate it, but is an attempt to make it a powerful ally in the struggle to ensure zero tolerance against gender-based violence in our society.”

Hosain was of the opinion that rape cases are “politicized” when they are expounded by the country’s media. She asked why the names and other details of rape victims are almost always highlighted in the media and instead of the profiles of the accused.

Violence and gender

Sage Publications is offering free access to journal articles up until April 30th. Here are two related to violence and gender:

A gendered assessment of the “threat of victimization”: Examining gender differences in fear of crime, perceived risk, avoidance, and defense behaviors  – by May, Rader, and Goodrum

Abstract

Rader has called for a change in how researchers study fear of crime, suggesting that fear of crime, perceptions of risk, and experiences with victimization are interrelated dimensions of the larger ‘‘threat of victimization’’ concept. In this study, the authors examine how each independent dimension affects additional theoretical dimensions of the ‘‘threat of victimization’’ and how these relationships vary by gender. Using data from residents of Kentucky, the authors estimate a series of multivariate linear and logistic regression models. The findings presented here suggest that gender differences do exist in the components of the threat of victimization and that many of the relationships in the Rader model are multifaceted, including the relationship between perceived risk, fear of crime, and avoidance and defensive behaviors. Implications of these findings for future research regarding predictors of the threat of victimization are discussed.

Interesting:

Women are much more likely to self-report fear of crime than men, even though they are less likely, according to official data, to experience victimization (with the exceptions of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and sexual harassment). This discrepancy is often called the ‘‘gender-fear paradox’’ because women’s fear of crime is incongruent with the reality of their criminal victimization (Ferraro, 1996). These elevated fear levels increase womens’ perceptions of risk and may cause women to be more likely to engage in constrained behaviors…

Gendered violence:  An analysis of the maquiladora murders  – by Katherine Pantaleo

Abstract

This study analyzes the social construction of a wave of female homicides surrounding the maquiladora plants in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Specifically, it explores the social construction ofthe murders by three different groups, the news media, human rights organizations, and academic researchers. The research begins with a content analysis of 35 narratives from newspapers,human rights reports, and academic journals. Sixteen of these narratives discuss North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in relation with the violence in Juarez. Analysis indicates that gender issues are intertwined with the trade agreement and concludes that the policy has aided in the disruption of the social fabric of Mexican society.

Results for Newspaper Articles

Overall, the newspaper articles do not include language such as femicide, maquiladora murder, violence toward women, and impunity nor do they suggest action or link the murders to anothersocial problem. None of the newspaper articles in the sample addressed the murders as femicidesor maquiladora murders. The perpetrators were mostly described as male serial killers. Four articlesaddressed the murders acts of violence against women, while three addressed the continuation of the murders, suggesting impunity. Finally, only one article discussed another social problem in conjunction with the maquiladora murders. A 1995 article from the Austin American Statesman described two accounts of serial killings. First, it mentioned the serial killings by a Cuban cult leader in 1989 and second it mentioned serial killings of eight teen girls in 1991. Both incidents occurred near Juarez. This particular article was the first to report the maquiladora murders.

 

The sample of newspaper narratives consisted of publications from as early as 1995 up until 2005. Even though the Austin American Statesman covered the murders in 1995, they were not yet known as the maquiladora murders, referred to as femicides, or portrayed as a major social problem. The continual coverage of the murders suggests that over the years, the maquiladora murders developed as an item of interest for the press. In addition, while the newspaper headlines focused mostly on the murders themselves, thewords chosen to describe themurders portrayed a sense of crisis. This is likely due to the nature of newspapers and their attempt to sensationalize stories. For example, some of thewords/phrases used are killing spree, unsolved murders, rape and murder, brutal Mexico killings, serial killings, women’s killings, Mexico’s murders, epidemic, and slayings. Despite the fact that the headlines focus most on the murders, the newspaper articles themselves mention the victims, perpetrators, and causes almost equally throughout the sample. Generally, the newspapers portray the murders as gendered sexual serial killings primarily perpetuated and caused by corruption of the criminal justice system. This is a significant contribution to defining the murders as a social problem. Specifically, the newspapers provide a visual aid that the public can use to define or construct the problem themselves. Newspaper claims-makers provide a framework for the development of a social problem, but it is up to the public to decide on the existence of a social problem. The human rights organizations and the peer-reviewed journal articles have a more specific target audience than do newspapers. This is one of the most significant differences between newspaper narratives and the narratives of human rights organizations and peer-reviewed journal articles that affects how they present their perspectives.