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Shortlist announced for the 2018 Awards

We are delighted to announce the shortlist for the 2018 Write to End Violence Against Women Awards.

This year we received a wonderful range of submissions across all the categories. These were reviewed by a panel to form the shortlist below. To read more about what we were looking for when we review submissions, read Handle with Care, our guide for journalists.

We look forward to welcoming all the shortlisted authors to the awards ceremony on Wednesday 28th November, where the winners will be announced.

News Reporting – Sponsored by the Daily Record

Caitlin Logan Parties unite to pressure Crown Office over risk of ‘re-traumatising’ rape survivors with new prosecution policy

Caitlin Logan “Malicious misinformation” on gender recognition is impacting on trans young people, says charity

Peter Swindon Students fear ‘academic consequences’ if they report sex attacks on campus

David Thomson STUC youth conference demands independent inquiry into sex for rent scandal

News Feature – Sponsored by NUJ Glasgow Branch and NUJ Scotland

Dani GaravelliInsight: The Edinburgh clinic helping sex workers stay safe

Dani GaravelliInjustice cries out at Kavanaugh hearing

Kirsty StricklandWomen’s Aid workers share horror stories from women and children who seek sanctuary over Christmas

Caitlin LoganCourt process can “cause as much damage” for victims as domestic abuse, say women’s rights advocates

Best Blog or Comment – Sponsored by the University of Strathclyde

Lesley MacMillan and Deborah White – Technologising Rape and Sexual Assault: Can we really innovate the problem away?

Shona Craven – Santa Fe shooting: Stop telling girls to put male feelings first

Hailey Maxwell The Scottish Left Must Do More On Sexual Violence

Hailey Maxwell – Exhibition Review. Antony Connelly at Minus: “If You Got The Money” 

Year of Young People – Sponsored by the Young Women Movement

Katie McPeake Words for wounds

Rosie HiltonThe everyday resistance of surviving sexual violence

Elsa, Anna, Kirsty from Dingwall Academy Time’s Up

Georgina HayesWolves in Feminist Clothing

Wooden Spoon

This year’s wooden spoon award will be announced at the ceremony.


Spotlight on Scottish Media: Language Matters

9 newspapers, 5 days 26 stories of sexual assault and rape, 6 called it sex

This March, our intern Jenny is blogging about the results of her media monitoring study. She’s been scanning Scottish newspapers for stories about violence against women to get an idea about the state of media reporting in Scotland. Read her first blog here. 

In 26 articles discussing rape and sexual assault, 6 headlines used the word “sex” instead of rape or assault. This was one of the more disappointing findings from the media monitoring project I have undertaken for Zero Tolerance. From week beginning the 29th of January I bought nine major newspapers (the Scottish Sun, Scottish Daily Mirror, the Scottish Times, Scottish Daily Mail, the Scotsman, the Scottish Herald, the Scottish Daily Express, the Scottish Telegraph, the Guardian) to analyse the coverage of violence against women in the Scottish press. I’ve split the findings into four blogs, this first one you can find here, discusses what the stories were about. This blog is a more in-depth analysis of the language used in the stories. The third covers whose side the stories were on. And the 4th is about the breakdown of the gender of the author of the stories.

The language that is used in these stories is so important as it shapes attitudes towards violence against women (VAW). The word choice and framing of the story informs how the reader perceives the incident, and the context of the incident.

Non-consensual sex is rape

Out of the 26 stories that were about rape and sexual assault, six separate headlines defined the story as one about “sex”¹. This is simply factually inaccurate. If a woman had come forward with a “sex claim” about a man it wouldn’t be news, it wouldn’t be a crime, there wouldn’t be a story. Sex without consent is not sex, it is rape. This word choice is not only factually inaccurate, but damaging – it blurs the very clear line between consent and rape.

Man or beast?

Four separate stories chose to describe the assailant in sensationalised language, such as “beast”, “fiend”, “monster”, “evil”, and “brute”. All four of these stories were in tabloid newspapers; two appearing in the Mirror, and two in the Sun². Dehumanising these men who perpetrate violence against women allows the reader to set them apart from ‘normal’ men. This does not challenge the reader to question why some men think it is acceptable to behave in this way. As Zero Tolerance’s Handle With Care Guidelines put it: “A man who is a ‘sex-beast’ does not warrant further investigation for his evil is inherent and unexplainable; an ordinary man who commits a horrific crime is much more perplexing”. To tackle the cause of violence against women we need to do more than label some men as monsters and ignore the toxic culture that permits this behaviour.

“An attractive girl”

I was happily surprised that no stories used adjectives to describe the victim-survivors that made them appear weak e.g. innocent, pure etc. However, there was still some trouble word choice. One story about the murder of Cheryl Hooper, used quotes from the local community to describe her, and the journalist chose to include the slightly disturbing comment of, “an attractive girl”³. Cheryl Hooper was a 51 year old woman who had just been murdered – not an “attractive girl”. Although the journalist is not saying this about Cheryl Hooper, they still chose to print that specific quote – when they very easily could have left out that irreverent and sexist comment altogether. Printing comments like that tell the reader that she deserves our pity; not our rage, and that we should be focusing on her looks, not his crime.


Calling out this problematic language is not curtailing of free speech or censorship. This is about asking journalists to recognise their duty in shaping of societal perceptions, and to use factual unbiased language. The language that is used when reporting these stories can be part of creating a climate where we challenge the cause of violence against women. It is the duty of the media to be part of that change.

It is very easy to be part of this change and not part of the problem a journalist or editor. As such, I’ll be ending each blog with a simple set of recommendations, because writing about violence against women in a way that is not harmful is really very basic.


  1. Never call assault or rape “sex” – it is vital not to blur the very defined line between consensual encounters and crimes.
  2. Do not call the perpetrators monsters or beasts – because they are not freaks of nature; they are a product of our society.
  3. Describe victim-survivors in language that does not disempower them – do not reduce them to their looks.

For full recommendations on how to write about Violence Against Women see our guidelines. Guidelines on language use can be found on page 19.

Have you written or read a story that is an example of good practice in reporting Violence Against Women? Enter the Write to End Violence Against Women Awards.

If you have been affected by any of these issues please get in touch:

Rape Crisis Scotland – 08088 01 03 02

Rape Crisis Scotland provides a national rape crisis helpline and email support for anyone affected by sexual violence, no matter when or how it happened.

The helpline is normally open from 6pm to midnight, 7 days a week, and offers free and confidential initial and crisis support and information.

Scotland’s domestic abuse and forced marriage helpline – 0800 027 1234

Scottish Women’s Aid runs a helpline, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which supports anyone with experience of domestic abuse or forced marriage, as well as their family members, friends, colleagues and professionals who support them.

  1. The Sun, 29.01.18, No Author Specified, Nelly gig sex claim, p. 21                                      The Times, 29.01.18, No Author Specified, Actor denies sex claims, p. 4                      The Times, 29.01.18, Will Pavia, Casino mogul quits over sex claims, p. 33                The Herald, 29.01.18, No Author Specified, Republican finance chief resigns over sex  claims, p. 14                                                                                                                                The Daily Mail, 29.01.18, No Author Specified, Mr Selfridge hit by new sex claims, p.2  The Sun, 01.02.18, No Author Specified, Girl’s sex fiend hell, p. 23
  2. The Sun 29.01.18 Douglas Walker, BEAST QUIZZED OVER LOUISE GUN HORROR p. 19                                                                                                                                                      The Sun 01.02.18 No Author Specified Girl’s sex fiend hell p. 23                                          The Mirror 30.01.18 Tom Pettifor Black cab rapist’s secret London flat p. 11            The Mirror 02.02.18 Lucy Thorton, Rapist jailed for evil “tag team” attack p. 21
  3. The Times, .0.01.18, Will Humphries, Mother shot dead knew her killer, p. 16

Erin Kelly wins ‘Best Creative Writing’ award

Over the next week we will be publishing information about all of our 2017 Write to End Violence Against Women award winners. You can find the full list here.

You can also listen to interviews with attendees of the Write to End VAW awards, on Engender’s Podcast ‘On The Engender’.

Erin Kelly won our inaugural Creative Writing award for her three poems. Read Erin’s wonderful poems, ‘Silence’, ‘Deep Water’ and ‘Survive’ here.

Judges’ comments

“Taking no prisoners in her work, Erin’s poems are visceral and visual in a way that makes her work stand out from the crowd. She wants her readers to take notice of what’s wrong with complicity and victim shaming and is succinct in doing so.”

“I love the immediacy of these poems and the use of evocative honesty. The writer has an impactful, stripped back style as she hits on the harassment and subjugation of women’s lived reality.”

You can read Erin’s writing on her website. 

Talat Yaqoob wins ‘Best Blog’

Over the next week we will be publishing information about all of our 2017 Write to End Violence Against Women award winners. You can find the full list here.

You can also listen to interviews with attendees of the Write to End VAW awards, on Engender’s Podcast ‘On The Engender’.

Talat Yaqoob won the Best Blog award for her writing on the subject of online misogyny. Read the blog here: “Just Ignore It”

On the gendered nature of online misogyny, Talat writes, “Why does this matter to the Women 5050 campaign? Because sexist abuse online and the disproportionate abuse of our women leaders prevents other women from aspiring to these roles. Last year, GirlGuiding UK released a report stating that “49% of girls aged 11–21 say fear of abuse online makes them feel less free to share their views”. Earlier this year, Unison Wales told us that online abuse was putting women off politics.”

Judges’ comments: “This blog makes an elegantly constructed argument about the virulence of misogyny experienced online by women, and women politicians in particular.  Talat Yaqoob frames the argument around the advice of men to ignore this abuse either because it isn’t worth a response or because we all “have bigger fish to fry” in domestic and sexual violence and FGM, for example.  Yaqoob aptly names the silencing inherent in both pieces of advice, and the tweets used to illustrate her argument remind us just how dangerous a place public space is for all women.”

“Brilliant! A tightly written, evidence based challenge to how women experience gender based violence online. The creative use of categories to guide the reader through the piece added to the impact of the blog.”

Read Talat’s blog here: “Just Ignore It”

Find out more about Women 5050 here.

Winners of the 2017 Write to End Violence Against Women Awards

A huge thank you to all of you who attended the 2017 Write Awards last night. We were thrilled to see such a packed event with so many people passionate about good media representation about violence against women.

Our compère Kainde Manji did a fantastic job of coordinating the ceremony and keeping things running smoothly.

We would like to give thanks to our wonderful MSP Sponsor Monica Lennon and speaker Jeane Freeman MSP; it is wonderful to have MSPs who are actively and vocally challenging the narrative that says violence against women is ever acceptable. Huge thanks as well to our wonderful panel of judges and of course all the writers who entered this year’s competition.

Zero Tolerance is supported in the running of the Write Awards by White Ribbon Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid, Engender, Everyday Victim Blaming, Women 50:50, Rape Crisis Scotland, Women for Independence and the Scottish Refugee Council and media partner, The Sunday Herald newspaper.

We are grateful to our 2017 sponsors, NUJ Scotland and the University of Strathclyde.

We’ll be posting more about the awards in the coming weeks, so please keep an eye out – for now please enjoy the excellent articles that winners of this year’s awards.

Winner of Best Article – News

Annie Brown, Daily Record

Island rape victims forced to endure second hell due to lack of local forensic facilities

Winner of Best Article – Feature

Vicky Allan, The Sunday Herald

Domestic abuse: This article will upset you but it is vital that you read it

Best Blog and Comment

Talat Yaqoob, Women 5050

“Just Ignore It”

Best article – Student and Young Person

Polly Smythe and Niamh Anderson, The Student

Domestic abuse is happening at university. So why don’t we talk about it?

Gender Equality Awards 2017: Creative Writing

Erin Kelly

3 Poems; Silence, Deep Water, Survive

Read Erin’s wonderful poems on page 63 – 65 of our booklet.

Wooden Spoon

Rather than award “worst article” or wooden spoon to a particular article, the organisers have decided to award this year’s Wooden Spoon to a theme. This recognises the shortcomings of representation as a whole, rather than singling out one individual journalist.

The Wooden Spoon award was presented by Annie McLaughlin, our 2016 Write to End Violence Against Women bursary winner and you can read a transcript here.


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