FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
29 November 2012
Contact: Brendan Wynne, Media Officer, London
+ 44 (0)20-7304 6902
LEVESON - "Tabloids demean women; new watchdog must take complaints from women"
Women’s organisations (Eaves, End Violence Against Women Coalition, Equality Now and Object) who gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry in January 2012 have warmly welcomed the ‘Leveson Report’ today (29 November) and called for all parties to get behind Leveson’s model for a new independent regulator.
The women’s groups said that Lord Leveson’s recommendations “open the door” for government and media regulators to tackle the “endemic sexism” the women’s groups found in a recent report, ‘Just the Women’, on the British press.
Key issues in the report:
Lord Leveson said that an article highlighted in the women’s groups’ evidence, ‘Bodyguards for Battered Towie Sisters’ (The Sun) may well have infringed clause 12 of the Editors Code as currently drafted.
Jacqui Hunt of Equality Now said:
“The Leveson report's acceptance that ‘women are reduced to the sum of the their body parts' by virtue of their demeaning and sexualising representation by the Page 3 tabloid press, beyond those who choose to appear in their pages, is underscored in our joint 'Just the Women' report. Such images clearly run contrary to the public interest and we welcome Lord Justice Leveson's proposal that amendments to the Press Code should be considered, which would embody true respect for the equality of all members of society."
Heather Harvey of Eaves said:
“We are very pleased that Leveson has acknowledged the demeaning and sexist treatment of women. The portrayal of women in the press goes to the core of public interest and directly impacts on women’s access to justice, women’s aspirations and society’s expectations of women. We are particularly pleased with the recognition of a need for an independent mechanism and one which can accept complaints from women’s groups – we look forward now to the government’s response and hope it is as honest about the real state of media sexism.”
Anna Van Heeswijk of Object said:
“Lord Leveson has given the green light today to setting up a new press regulatory body equipped to challenge the persistent sexism in our daily press. We hope the government looks carefully at his report and ours, and then ensures that any new regulation enables civil society to challenge the press, and to bring about an end to upskirt photography, Page 3 sexism, and the real harms to women which result.”
Holly Dustin of End Violence Against Women said:
"Lord Leveson has opened the door for the government and media regulators to tackle harmful, discriminatory and inaccurate media portrayal of women. This opportunity must not be lost and work to develop the new complaints body and Code must link in with work going on elsewhere in government to tackle sexualisation and violence against women and girls. We applaud Lord Leveson for addressing these issues in his thorough report."
Francine Hoenderkamp of Turn Your Back On Page 3 said:
"It is a victory for women that Lord Justice Leveson has recognised the harmful impact that the Page 3 tabloid press has on women’s inequality - of which this overt sexist and misogynistic portrayal of women is perpetuating and fuelling. If the tabloid press insists on continuing to treat women in this way it is up to the government to ensure there is a sufficient regulatory body in place that holds them to account."
The report, entitled ‘Just the Women’1, by Eaves, Equality Now, the End Violence Against Women Coalition and Object2, is an evaluation of eleven British national newspapers’ content over a two week period in September this year. It examines how crimes of violence against women are reported, how women are portrayed more broadly, and the general visibility of women in public life. The fortnight’s study found over 1,300 pieces of editorial and images which illustrated these issues.
The report’s key findings are:
The report refers to examples of poor reporting over the two week period including:
Reporting on the Cabinet re-shuffle during this period included editorial which was patronising, insulting and humiliating to women including Baroness Warsi and Maria Miller, including reference to women politicians’ choice of dress.
The four campaigning women’s organisations are calling on the government to examine Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals and then to consider instituting a new press regulation regime which:
In the longer term, the four women’s organisations are also calling for journalists to receive training on issues including sexism and myths and stereotypes about sexual and physical violence; and for the Culture and Media Select Committee, headed by John Whittingdale MP, to hold an inquiry into media sexism.
The new report highlights the fact that the government’s strategy on ending violence against women in all its forms, and the work being lead by Number 10 on sexualisation which has included Mothers Union head Reg Bailey leading an inquiry and making recommendations on advertising, internet controls, music videos and video games, are both undermined by persistent media sexism and discrimination of the kind discussed.
1. ‘Just the Women’ is what Newsnight editor Peter Rippon reportedly wrote in an email to a colleague concerning the lack of other authorities for evidence of Jimmy Savile’s abuse.
2. Equality Now is an international human rights organisation working to promote and protect the rights of women and girls around the world. With members in 160 countries we partner with local and grassroots groups to document discrimination and violence against women and mobilise international action to stop these abuses.
The End Violence Against Women Coalition is the UK’s largest coalition of organisations working to eradicate violence against women and girls; members include Rape Crisis England and Wales, Refuge, Women’s Aid, The Women’s Institute, Amnesty International UK and the TUC.
Object is an award-winning human rights organisation which campaigns against the sexual objectification of women in the media and popular culture.
Eaves is a London-based charity that provides high quality housing and support to vulnerable women. We also carry out research, advocacy and campaigning to prevent all forms of violence against women.