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close this bookUnderstanding Violence Against Women - A Guide for Media (CMFR - UNFPA, 1998, 31 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentData Card
View the documentI. Women’s Rights are Human Rights: Understanding Violence against Women
View the documentII. Sexism Kills
View the documentIII. Understanding Rape
View the documentIV. Understanding Victimization
View the documentV. The Political Aspect
View the documentVI. The Role of the Media
View the documentVII. Guidelines on the Coverage of Crimes Against Women and Minors
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VII. Guidelines on the Coverage of Crimes Against Women and Minors

I. CONSENT. Recognize the victims’ right to decide whether to be identified or not.

1. Withhold the identity of the victim and suspect (until indictment).

2. Make sure the consent given is free and informed consent.

2.1. Do not assume consent until expressly given.

2.2. Determine if the victim is in the right frame of mind to give consent.

2.3. Broadcast reporters/editors should take care that filming/reporting/recording of such crimes do not violate the above principle.

II. IMAGES. Recognize the right to dignity of victims, specially in death.
1. Do not use photos of victims who are naked, scantily clad, or in otherwise degrading states.

2. Do not photograph or use photos of minors as victims or suspects.

3. Use graphics, line shots, other illustrations to visually supplement the reportage.

4. Do not trivialize the reality of violent crimes with the use of humor, cartoons, etc.

5. Do not place reports of violence next to pm-ups and other items which heighten their titillating value.

6. Do not use photos or any visual depiction of confrontations between the victims, the victims’ families, and the accused in police stations and other law enforcement agencies.

III. REPORTAGE. Crimes of violence against women and children should be reported factually and seriously.

1. Reporters should not use words and phrases which tend to pass judgment on the victim and/or suspect. Ex: prostitute, pretty, sexy, former dancer, sex maniac, drug addict, etc.

2. Eliminate details/descriptions which tend to titillate readers/viewers and sensationalize the story or ridicule the victims.

3. The general rule: Do not use obscene, profane, or vulgar terms in a story unless they are part of direct quotations and there is a strong, compelling reason to use them.

The following are some egregious examples of common violations of the Guidelines and the ethical requirements to respect the right to privacy and confidentiality of both victims and accused, but especially of child victims and juvenile offenders. Would you have done things differently? How?

Would the industry have used the young women’s photos and identified them so casually if they had been daughters of the household and not housemaids?


What do the guidelines say about the use of photographs of the dead? What impression is given by the use of the kicker: “The Eternal Love Triangle.”


Was it clear to you that the starlet in the cheesecake photo on the right-hand comer is not the same starlet facing a counter-suit?


The photographers sought to protect the youngsters’ identities by shooting them from behind, but the girls went through countless poses before the photographers were satisfied. Do you think the girls’ privacy was adequately protected?


There is no doubt that the media’s blind spot is closely related to the personal values of key media persons, and their dependence on conventional norms on what is news and what isn’t. The only way a dent can be made in the situation is if enough members of the profession change their own personal assumptions about the nature of violence against women and begin reflecting this new awareness in their coverage and reportage.

Media practitioners can help change this dominant culture, mainly by offering alternative images of women, especially of the victims of violence. Changing the predominant images of women in the media, from victimization and exploitation to survival and recovery, means simply being true to the journalistic values of accuracy, the enlightenment of the public, and fairness.


Balasubrahmanyan, Vimal. Mirror Image: The Media and the Women’s Question. Bombay, India: Center for Education and Documentation, 1988.

Bunch, Charlotte and Roxanna Carillo. Gender Violence: A Development and Human Rights Issue. Center for Women’s Global Leadership.

Dionisio, Eleanor R. More Alike than Different: Women, Men and Gender as Social Construction. Occasional Paper No. 3, National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women.

“Making Sense of Rape” A Review of Presumptions Relied upon by the Supreme Court in Decisions on Rape. Women’s Legal Bureau Study, June 1995.

Teodoro, Luis V. “Images of the World: ‘Guidelines’ and Journalistic Values.” Philippine Journalism Review vol. IV, no. 4 (1994): 16.