Women’s Groups call for ‘Leveson debate’ to ‘wake up’ to harm to women

Eaves, Equality Now, EVAW (End Violence Against Women) and Object gave evidence at the Leveson Inquiry in January this year on the portrayal of women in the media. Now, as Lord Leveson prepares to publish the Leveson Report, the four women’s groups have launched a report which examined the media’s portrayal of Violence Against Women over a two week period. The report, entitled ‘Just the Women’ is an evaluation of 11 British national newspapers’ content and explores how women are portrayed across the media and in public life with a specific focus on how crimes of violence against women are reported.

The report’s key findings are:

• Crimes of violence against women are frequently reported inaccurately and without context, with a tendency to minimise the perpetrator’s actions and to blame the victim.

• Some tabloids contribute to the sexualisation of girls while purporting to condemn it; sexual abuse of children is sometimes presented in a way that minimises the abuse and is even on occasion titillating.

• In many newspapers women are persistently portrayed as sex objects, alongside the mainstreaming and ‘normalising’ of the sex industry; this is also an area where the line between advertising and editorial is extremely blurred.

• Regarding women in public life, younger women are visible but heavily stereotyped and infantilised, while older, disabled and black and minority ethnic women are less visible, and those in public life are often subject to ridicule.

Heather Harvey of Eaves said:

“These are categorically not matters of so-called ‘taste and decency’. The persistent portrayal of women as to blame for the abuse they suffer, as sex objects and as an insignificant part of public life, is very damaging. We need a full scale debate about how to turn this around.”

Read the full report here.

Read the letter to the Prime Minister here.

Read the press release here.

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