Taking a side. Enough of the media still excusing violence against women

On 13th April, I blogged here about the response of the BBC – calling for a debate on a judge’s erroneous call on a man’s ‘human right’ to sex in marriage.

I wrote about the need to ‘take sides when it comes to women’s rights’ because I was not only appalled by the judge’s comments, but I was also sick of the excuse of ‘impartiality’ being used to continue violent and aggressive forms of public discourse. ‘Debates’ that premise everything as ‘for and against’ have no role in discussing events and experiences where there can be no ‘other side’. Where the law is clear. Where human rights are at stake. I wrote,

“If a public broadcaster is committed to ‘due accuracy‘ – then impartiality can still involve taking a ‘side’… While public service broadcasters may be forbidden from ‘expressing opinion’ – they do have a responsibility to call out inaccuracies and where events are a violation. To not call out violations where they occur, continues to show how very little women’s lives are taken into account in our ‘representative democracy’. If we take women’s lives, rights, dignity, participation, as not only important, but a non-negotiable part of being a democracy – then, we must continue to call out how concerns about ‘bias’ works. It works to continue to privilege an inaccurate and outdated maleview. Debate does not have to be a binary of opposition. It should be nuanced, of quality, informed”.

I’m revisiting this post today because this week has seen another stream of horrendous reporting of violence against women and girls. Including, that from a public service broadcaster. The murder of a 13 year old girl by her abuser. The assault of a peaceful protester by an MP. Grabbing by the neck. The rage distorting his face.

The failure to correctly report the violence and abuse in the minimising language used. Erasing the victim. Framing child abuse as a relationship.

Suggesting that a protester had been ‘marched out’ – rather than grabbed around the neck. Reporting on those who ‘supported’ the actions. Focussing on the potential ‘risk’, rather than the actual abuse perpetrated.

Look at the footage. Then ask yourself why the minimisation?

Why the continued attempt to ‘understand’ the perpetrator? Especially when part of the establishment. This should be unacceptable bias.

Why the clinging on to the notion of ‘two sides to every story’, when in many cases there are not?

Unless you continue to not value women and girls. To see them as less than human. As without rights. Often, without even giving them their name.

I missed a call this morning to ‘talk about experiences of protest’ on radio. I missed the call because I was getting my kids ready for school and nursery.

I then saw the coverage of Mark Field’s attack on a protester.

Was that really going to be the topic of the phone-in?

Sophie Walker tweeted as I wrote this that she would not do any media appearances debating the validity of violence against women. Good.

I don’t want to ‘debate’ violence against women either. It is a human rights violation. I know what side I am on. Read the research on domestic violence. Read the research on gender-based violence in public.

It’s time those who drive the public agenda make that clear too. For the sake of ‘due accuracy’.

And, if media outlets want more women to appear, think about what you are asking of them in doing so.

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