Violence Against Women: How Journalists Can Better Tell the Story

To mark the International day for the elimination of violence against women, the International Federation of journalists (IFJ) today released guidelines for improving media coverage of an issue which is a scourge in society but which is often poorly reported.

"The story of violence against women needs to be told with sensitivity, professionalism and depth," says Aidan White, Secretary General of the IFJ. "Too often media choose sensationalism and stereotypes instead of providing realistic, inclusive and accurate reporting of the horrifying scale of this problem."

The IFJ recommends that journalists think more carefully how they use words and images when reporting violence against women, suggesting the use of non-judgmental language and exercising restraint in publication of graphic details.

The IFJ says the word "victim" is overused and "survivor" might be a more appropriate term. This is one of a series of recommendations that the IFJ hopes will see the people affected by violence being granted more respect.  

Journalists are also encouraged to inform the public of the bigger picture of violence against women by including statistics, social background information and experts' opinion in their work.

The IFJ says media themselves must be alert to the problem in their own business. "As well as reporting this issue with greater sensitivity media must adopt an internal culture of respect that eliminates all forms of harassment, bullying or any form of discrimination based upon gender" concluded White.

To launch the guidelines, the IFJ organised a roundtable on 25th November in Brussels to strengthen dialogue between experts and journalists on violence against women.

For further information contact the IFJ: +32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries