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#Tip: Guidelines for interviewing victims of sexual and gender-based violence

June 3rd, 2014Posted by in Top tips for journalists

Sexual and gender-based violence has been getting a lot of press recently, for good reason.

The abhorrent crimes against women and girls committed by men in southern California and northern India have brought the topic to the fore but, according to a 2013 study from the World Health Organisation, one in three women worldwide will experience sexual or gender-based violence at some point in their lives. These are extreme cases of a widespread problem.

While reporting these crimes and addressing the socio-cultural background that can motivate the perpetrators is a vital role of the media, telling the story of the victims, both male and female, is just as important.

The recent #YesAllWomen hashtag has let many women tell their own stories. But when a victim of sexual or gender-based violence agrees to an interview, there are additional considerations a journalist must take into account – to respect the victim’s rights and aid their recovery.

Last year, the human rights non-profit Witness published guidelines for interviewing survivors of such crimes, including tips on approaching the interview, conducting the interview, and professional behaviour after the interview. They are well worth remembering.

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  • Sarah Kavanagh

    The National Union of Journalists also has guidelines on the following –

    NUJ guide to online safety and harassment
    Sexual harassment – a guide for members
    Sexual harassment – a guide for union representatives
    NUJ workplace policy on domestic violence
    NUJ guidance on safety for women journalists
    NUJ guidlines for journalists reporting on violence against women

    More details on the NUJ website:

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