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Writing to end violence against women

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NUJ Scotland was proud to support Zero Tolerance’s Write to End Violence Against Women awards for the fifth year running. The awards were held on 7 December at the Scottish Parliament.

Zero Tolerance has also launched guidelines on reporting domestic abuse in advance of new legislation to tackle the problem of violence against women.

The new laws, once implemented, will mean that police will be able to act where there is a course of abusive behaviour, whether it is physical, mental or psychological, and it will include coercive control.

NUJ Scotland assisted with the guidelines and material from a post on our webpage by journalist Dani Garavelli – Time to end clumsy coverage of violence against women – was quoted in the guidelines.

For any journalist worth their salt, how much better would it be to win a Write to End Violence Award rather than its antithesis: a wooden spoon?

‘Sometimes – as in the case of Oscar Pistorious and Reeva Steenkamp – victims are effectively erased from their own killings, their names and identities lost in the column inches devoted to their attackers. Clodagh Hawe, murdered along with her three sons, in August, became known as “the invisible woman” after reports focused on her husband Alan, who had killed her, and the children “missed by all who knew them”.  Outside the worst of the tabloids, things are improving. There are many reporters and columnists committed to writing on issues such as campus rape culture and inadequacies in the justice system. In Scotland, the Write to End Violence Awards, run by Zero Tolerance, acknowledge good journalism, while handing out a wooden spoon to the worst offenders.’ DANI GARAVELLI.

At the launch, Brenna Jessie, external affairs officer with Scottish Women’s Aid said: “Journalists – your writing and your voice can be the difference between never seeking support and asking for help for victims of domestic abuse.  It’s a huge power and there have been some tremendous abuses of that power.”

Justice secretary Michael Matheson said: “The media has a very important role to play from the victim’s point of view and for other victims considering reporting domestic violence.”

Rachel Adamson of Zero Tolerance urged journalists to remember to publish the helpline for victims of domestic abuse at the end of articles – 0800 027 1234.

The Write to End Violence Against Women awards attracted a wide range of high quality articles. Annie Brown of the Daily Record won the news category, which was sponsored by the NUJ for her article  Island rape victims forced to endure second hell due to lack of local forensic facilities.

Congratulations to all the winners and all those shortlisted, including NUJ Scottish Executive Council black members’ rep Layla-Roxanne Hill for her piece News Blackout – Why Aren’t Black British Women Treated Fairly In The Media? which was commissioned as part of the Stronger Voice for Women in the Media project.

This year’s wooden spoon award went to the theme of the ‘balance fallacy’, stories that suggested equivalence between abused women and their abusers, promoting the idea that women shared the blame and could prevent them from reporting abuse.

Labour MSP Monica Lennon sponsored the award ceremony at the Scottish Parliament and applauded the NUJ  for launching a safe space on its Scottish website for women to call out sexism in the media.

NUJ Scotland Organiser Dominic Bascombe, who presented the NUJ award, also used the opportunity to announce the safe space for journalists and members of the public to call out sexism in the media with a confidential/anonymous space on the website,  a dedicated email address: stopmediasexism@nuj.org.uk, and a Twitter account @StopMediaSexism with the hashtag #stopmediasexism.

This follows on from the commitment to tackle the problem of media sexism in an NUJ motion presented by activist Claire Sawers, supported by several other unions and passed unanimously at the STUC Women’s Conference in Glenrothes last October.

The NUJ will now be working with other trade unions to spread awareness about the safe space so fellow trade unionists can call out incidences to help stop media sexism.

*A Stronger Voice for Women in the Media is a campaign to improve representation of women working in the media and by the media.  It is run by NUJ Scotland, funded via the STUC under the Trade Union, Fair Work and Modernisation Fund.

 Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline 0800 027 1234 http://sdafmh.org.uk/

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