Winners of the 2018 Write to End Violence Against Women Awards

Picture of Christina McKelvie MSP, standing with Peter Swindon, Rosie Hilton, and Leslie McMillan holding trophies - all smiling!

A huge thank you to all of you who attended the 2018 Write Awards this week. We were thrilled to see such a packed event with so many people passionate about good media representation about violence against women.

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

We would like to give thanks to our wonderful MSP and speaker Christina McKelvie MSP, Minister for Older People and Equalities; 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, Rape Crisis Scotland, Forth Valley Rape Crisis,  and media partner, The Daily Record newspaper.

We are grateful to our 2018 sponsors, NUJ Scotland, NUJ Glasgow Branch, The Young Women’s Movement, and the University of Strathclyde.

Winner of Best Article – News Reporting, Sponsored by the Daily Record

Peter Swindon, The Herald

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

 

Peter Swindon, smiling, holding a trophy, next to Anna Burnside

 

Winner of Best Article – News Features, Sponsored by NUJ Scotland and NUJ Glasgow Branch

Dani Garavelli, The Scotsman

Insight: The Edinburgh clinic helping sex workers stay safe

Sadly, Dani could not join us on the night but we will be getting her trophy to her soon!

 

Winner of Best Blog or Comment, Sponsored by the University of Strathclyde

Lesley McMillan & Deborah White, Gender Politics at Edinburgh

Technologising Rape and Sexual Assault: Can we really innovate the problem away?

Karen Boyle standing with Lesley McMillan. Lesley is smiling, holding a trophy

 

Winner of Year of Young People Award, Sponsored by the Young Women’s Movement

Rosie Hilton, The Student Newspaper

The everyday resistance of surviving sexual violence

Patrycja Kupiec standing with Rosie Hilton. Rosie is smiling and holding a trophy.

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NEW SPONSORS FOR WRITE TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AWARDS

Logos of National Union of Journalists, National Union of Journalists Glasgow Branch, and The University of Strathcylde

We are thrilled to announce that the National Union of Journalists (Scotland) and the National Union of Journalists Glasgow Branch, and Strathclyde University will be sponsoring awards at this year’s Write to End Violence Against Women Awards.

The NUJ Scotland and NUJ Glasgow will be sponsoring our ‘Best Article – News Features’ category

The union represents a broad range of media professionals and works for journalists in all sectors of the media as freelancers, casuals and staff in newspapers, news agencies, broadcasting, magazines, online, book publishing, in public relations, communications, and as photographers. NUJ Scotland has been working to shine a light on the issue of women’s representation both by the media and in the media. Read more here.

Find out more about the NUJ – Scotland on the website. Follow them on Twitter here.

Find out more about the Glasgow branch by following them on Twitter here.

The University of Strathclyde will be sponsoring the ‘Best Blog or Comment’ category.

A spokesperson at Strathclyde University said, “Strathclyde University takes pride in “useful learning” that engages fully with the community. Our media, journalism and creative writing programmes produce award-winning practitioners who shape the field in Scotland and beyond. From 2018 we are excited to offer new, interdisciplinary postgraduate programmes in Applied Gender Studies with Strathclyde Feminist Network.” 

Find out more about the University of Strathclyde on the website. Follow on Twitter and like on Facebook.

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 the media: why are we still blaming the victim?

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 and her second here.

Media monitoring 3

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. This is the 3rd out of four blogs. The first one discusses the what the stories were about – a quantitative analysis of the content of the 57 stories. The second is about the language used in the stories. And the 4th is about the breakdown of the gender of the author of the stories.

When reading the 57 stories as part of this project I was trying to gauge who the story make us want to believe. This is a difficult line to tread for journalists when reporting on stories of the cases have not been through court. If charges have not been risen and gone through due process we must assume that the alleged perpetrator is innocent until proven guilty. However, the assumption of innocence should also be extended to the accuser – the women who come forward also deserve fair treatment in the press and assumption of innocence. What I mean by this is that being neutral towards the accused should not mean framing a woman who has come forward as distrustful, malicious, or unrapeable. During this project, three stories stood out as being highly distrustful of the women they were about:

1. “Former call girl”

The Times story covering Sophie Spatz’s accusation of the French politician Gérald Darmanin describes her as a, “former call girl”1. It is difficult to see another reason that her previous job is included, other than to try to discredit her. It should be exceedingly obvious that her previous career is not relevant to her claims. Would the writer have chosen to describe her with her previous career if she used to be a nurse? Or a teacher? Referencing her previous employment in prostitution, is not only irrelevant, it actively encouraging damaging myths that women who sell sex cannot be raped, lie about rape, or that they are in part to blame for rapes. It is disappointing to have to state that women who sell or have sold sex have a right to their bodies. No man has the right to a woman’s body.

2. Worried for her mental health

One of the main stories that was covered in the 5 day period was about Jessica Moore’s accusations that she suffered abusive behaviour from her estranged husband Nick Knowles, a B-list TV personality. Most of the reporting of this story frames it as Moore running a smear campaign against a normal, friendly, family man in order to extort him for money in the divorce. It is frustrating to see journalists so ready to suggest that she is making the whole thing up for money. The case has not been reported to the police, or gone through court but stories continually describe Knowles in sympathetic language, such as “distraught”. And repeatedly reads as if the story is about the fact that she wants more money from him, not about the claims of abuse – with one stories headline reading “DIY Nick pays ex £48,000 a year”2. Many more describe her in language which makes it seem like she is not trustworthy and her claims are false, one calls her,  “very bitter”3, another cites Nick being worried for Jess’ mental health4. Calling women crazy is a long standing sexist tactic to doubt the credibility of women’s words by invoking problematic mental health stigmas5. Without waiting for a verdict, these journalists have implied that Moore is lying – this creates a hostile environment for other women to come forward as they are worried they will not be believed either.

Newspaper headline text reads: 'DIVORCE ROW Nick Knowle's estranged wife Jessica Moor wants more than £48, 000 a year and vows to prove 'abuse' as bitter divorce war intensifies '

3. After she dumped him

The worst story by far is the Mirror’s coverage of a murder of Molly McLaren by Joshua Stimpson. The story is not attempting to claim that Stimpson is innocent; he has already admitted to the crime; it is attempting to say that it isn’t his fault. The story, by Flora Thompson, titled Killer “unable to take being abandoned”, describes the man as, “hypersensitive to rejection”, “after his mother left”, meaning he was “desperate to avoid abandonment”. Thus “after she dumped him”, he was distraught, and that along with an, “abnormality of mental function” resulted in her murder.6

The story is focused completely on him, leaving Molly McLaren to be largely invisible in the narrative of her own murder. Not only this, but it attempts to excuse his behaviour and amass sympathy for Stimpson, by blaming mental health problems and Molly herself. The coverage of this story made me so angry, and then really sad. As it is really depressing to have to write this next paragraph in 2018 but in response to this I feel like I have to:

Women are allowed to leave relationships. Women do not deserve to be murdered for leaving relationships. Being a woman who wants to leave a relationship is not a crime; murder is. Lots of people have abnormalities of mental functions and don’t murder people. There is no excuse for murder, even if you are really, really sad. It was Joshua Stimpson that murdered Molly McLaren, not his hurt feelings.

Impact

These three stories highlight a societal problem of where blame and trust is placed in cases of violence against women. Trust is not often extended to women7 – especially women who sell sex or have sold sex8, women of colour9, and disabled women10. This lack of trust is perpetuated by a patriarchal media that reports on stories in this way.

Women read these stories and the stories shape their understanding of what happens if you come forward. An expected lack of trust makes it difficult to come forward – women are scared of not knowing if they will be believed, and how they will be treated in the press. In 2015-2016 in Scotland there were 58,104 incidents of domestic abuse11 and 1,809 rapes or attempted rapes recorded by the police12. As high as these figures are, they would be higher if we created a society that empowered women to speak out.

This is why the #Metoo and the Harvey Weinstein coverage seems to have sparked a wave of women coming forward in lots of different industries. Women now feel we will be believed. When we read stories of brave women coming forward this can spark a desire to come forward ourselves, either for help or to seek justice. So it is important to have the helpline next to stories.

It is really disappointing that no stories did this.

It is very easy to counteract this and not be part of the problem as 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.

Recommendations:

  1. Don’t assume a woman is lying – do not use narratives that say certain types of women lie.
  2. Never make excuses for the accused’s crimes.
  3. Never blame the woman for the crimes of the man.
  4. Always include helplines at the end of stories.

For full recommendations on how to write about Violence Against Women see our guidelines.

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.

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.

 The Times, 29.01.18, Charles Bremner, Sex-for-favour rape claim hits French cabinet, p. 35

  1. The Sun, 29.01.18, Dan Wootton, DIY Nick pays ex £48,000 a year, p. 11
  2. The Mirror, 29.01.18, Tom Bryant, Cough up Nick… or I will dish the dirt, p .19
  3. The Daily Mail, 29.01.18, Clemmie Moodie, “I’ve never hit her”, says TV Knowles after claims by ex”, p. 27
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXx3W1AkbDwhttps://www.refinery29.com/2014/09/75146/stop-women-crazy-emotions-gender
  5. The Mirror, 02.02.18, Flora Thompson, Killer “unable to take being abandoned”, p. 15
  6. https://www.vox.com/2016/5/1/11538748/believe-rape-victims
  7. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-rape/
  8. http://www.ebony.com/news-views/the-criminal-unrapeability-of-black-wome… Thornberry E. (2016). Rape, race, and respectability in a South African port city: East London, 1870–1927. Journal of Urban History, 42, 863–880.
  9. https://sapac.umich.edu/article/56
    https://www.npr.org/2018/01/20/577064075/in-their-own-words-people-with-…
  10. http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/10/2442/334224
  11. http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/09/2960/332784

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.

Impact

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.

Recommendations:

  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
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