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When Words Fail: The Way Institutions Talk about Sarah Everard Matters

A graphic with a quote from Dr. Miranda Barty-Taylor that reads: "To indicate a degree of choice on Sarah’s part is to disregard the power dynamic which removed her agency altogether. It also assigns women the task of keeping themselves safe, which once again elides men’s role in their violence."

[CN: violence against women, police violence]

In this blog post, Gender Equal Media Scotland's Development Officer, Dr. Miranda Barty-Taylor, discusses the language used by institutions in the wake of the Sarah Everard case and trial, and the epidemic of violence against women and girls in the UK. This blog entry largely refers to UK institutions.

I am grappling with my unproductivity, as my concentration veers from a report on gender equality in the media to the horrifying details emerging from the trial of Sarah Everard’s killer. I suppose it is little wonder; while half my brain analyses the discourses being reproduced in the inevitable public discussion of the trial, the other half is reeling from the fear she must have felt. Just as I deconstruct the ideologies behind the Met’s next statement, I feel again an incandescence of anger that is too bright to bear. The language coming from sites of political and police power is so very problematic, reinforcing misogynistic norms and neglecting to acknowledge the crisis of men’s violence against women.

Violence against women and girls is an epidemic in the UK, reports Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS). In March Johnson made a statement about the Safer Streets fund, which the Government doubled to £45 million, to be spend on streetlights and CCTV. The language he uses about violence against women and girls is revealing: we need to “better protect and defend them.” This construction positions women and girls as dependent and weak, requiring the strength of male-dominated institutions such as the criminal justice system to look after their interests. Framed in such a way, more streetlights might make sense. However, it is far removed from the “radical and bold” action called for by the HMICFRS. Meanwhile the cuts to 60% of local authority domestic abuse refuges further underline the lack of political will to fund existing women’s services on the front line of men’s violence.

Spotlight on Scottish Media: who makes the news?

By Jenny Lester, Zero Tolerance

In March 2018, Zero Tolerance Project Support Intern Jenny Lester blogged about the results of her media monitoring study. She’s been scanning Scottish newspapers for stories about violence against women to get an idea about the state of media reporting in Scotland. Read blogs one, two and three.

Spotlight on Scottish Media: why are we still blaming the victim?

By Jenny Lester, Zero Tolerance

He is innocent until proven guilty but I am a liar until proven honestIn March 2018, Zero Tolerance Project Support Intern Jenny Lester blogged about the results of her media monitoring study. She’s been scanning Scottish newspapers for stories about violence against women to get an idea about the state of media reporting in Scotland. Read blogs one and two.

Spotlight on Scottish Media: language matters

By Jenny Lester, Zero Tolerance

language matters summaryIn March 2018, Zero Tolerance Project Support Intern Jenny Lester blogged about the results of her media monitoring study. She’s been scanning Scottish newspapers for stories about violence against women to get an idea about the state of media reporting in Scotland. Read her first blog here.

In 26 articles discussing rape and sexual assault, 6 headlines used the word “sex” instead of rape or assault. This was one of the more disappointing findings from the media monitoring project I have undertaken for Zero Tolerance.

Spotlight on Scottish Media: what's the story?

By Jenny Lester, Zero Tolerance

summary of findingsIn March 2018, Zero Tolerance Project Support Intern Jenny Lester blogged about the results of her media monitoring study. She’s been scanning Scottish newspapers for stories about violence against women to get an idea about the state of media reporting in Scotland.

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