Campaigners want a watchdog to stop newspapers from 'sexualising violent crimes against women'
Women groups have formed a coalition demanding the creation of a new regulatory body to look at sexism in the media.
This comes in the run-up to the publication of the Leveson report on the press, expected to be released this Thursday.
Four women’s organisations, Eaves, Equality Now, Object and the End Violence Against Women Coalition, closely looked at the content of 11 national newspapers over a randomly chosen fortnight in early September – finding that over 1,300 articles and images raised concern over how violence against women is portrayed in the British press.
They warned newspaper coverage ‘sexualised violent crimes against women’, helping to normalise rape and create jurors who hold prejudices against female victims.
In a report, the coalition of groups wrote: ‘We found numerous instances of violence against women coming across as sexual and titillating.
‘We call this ‘rape culture’ because this reporting of violence against women and girls not only trivialises the abuse, but it further contributes to an increasingly conducive context for rape and sexual abuse to take place with impunity.
‘Articles which appear to present violation, fear and lack of consent as appealing were not uncommon.’
The group have sent a letter to David Cameron which demands any new press regulation contains clear guidance about female equality and sexually explicit material.
The letter also states: ‘If our press culture remains one in which women are either invisible or semi-naked, stereotyped or vilified, our society and our democracy suffers’.
Particularly concerning was the fact that no stories documenting violence against women referred to the sheer scale of abuse against women.
Some of the women’s groups also raised issues about sexualised images in newspapers, in particular the Sun’s Page 3 tradition – which currently is the focus of a petition.
Anna van Heeswijk of Object said: ‘Page 3 sexism accompanies a daily diet of upskirt photography, double-page spreads of naked women with no news value, and explicit sex industry advertisements in newspapers like the Sport.’