Media sexism & the Leveson Inquiry

There is a groundswell of opinion that our 'old' and 'new' media alike are awash with both unconscious sexist reporting and outright misogynistic content.

Our members believe this abuse of women in our culture is directly related to the harm many women suffer. The Head of the CPS in London has said, for example, that the media portrayal of rape is hindering attempts to make women feel safer about reporting it to the police.

The Leveson Inquiry

In December 2012, the End Violence Against Women Coalition, Eaves, Object and Equality Now made submissions to the Leveson Inquiry, as reported in the Guardian, Evening Standard, Channel 4 News and others.

We called on the Inquiry to look at the way the media in Britain reports on violence against women, including victim-blaming and the perpetuation of myths about abuse, and how the press objectifies and degrades women.

Read the EVAW Coalition submission here and the joint Object and Turn Your Back on Page 3 submission here where there are also ways of taking action!

In January 2013 we were invited to give oral evidence to the Inquiry which representatives from our four organisations did together. The Guardian reported on this here.

at leveson inquiry

In July 2012 our four organisations made a second joint submission to the Leveson Inquiry when Lord Leveson invited comments on his 'draft criteria' for what the new 'rules and regulations' for the press might be.

Say No to the Press Industry's Royal Charter

 Women’s organisations that gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry do not support the PressBoF proposal for a Royal Charter. We do not believe that this proposal is compliant with Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations, nor do we have confidence that it will address the issues that we raised before the Inquiry. The debate following the Inquiry has not produced the hoped-for positive, open and inclusive discussion on a better way forward. We believe the PressBoF proposal represents no change to the previous regime and therefore in the alternative we support the cross-party agreement on a Royal Charter.

Download our submissions to the Department for Culture Media and Sport here

See Press Industry proposals for a Royal Charter here

See cross-party agreement on a Royal Charter here

To respond to the consultation by 24th May email

Just the Women - a report on endemic media sexism

As Lord Leveson prepared to publish his final report in Autumn 2012, our four organisations worked together again to produce a short report giving a 'snapshot analysis' of the portrayal of women in eleven national newspapers over a two week period in September 2012. Our report is entitled 'just the women' which is what the Newsnight editor reportedly wrote in an email to a colleague concerning the lack of other authorities for evidence of Jimmy Savile's abuse. We found that there is endemic sexism across the press and made specific recommendations for tackling it.

We responded to the publication of Lord Leveson's report on 29 November by welcoming his recommendations and saying that he has 'opened the door' to new routes to tackle endemic media sexism in our press. In particular we are campaigning for the new press regulation regime to:

  • permit third parties to make complaints about discriminatory reporting
  • work to a new press code which has clear and strong rules on sexist discrimination
  • work to a complaints body which includes representative(s) who are expert on equality
  • use this opportunity to make the availability of sexually explicit material in our newspapers consistent with the broadcast watershed; ie it should not be permitted in unrestricted titles

In the longer term we want to see journalists and editors have training on sexism and specifically on violence against women and how not to convey victim blaming attitudes. We would also like the House of Commons culture, media and sport  committee to hold an enquiry into media sexism.

Zero Tolerance have published a guide to responsible media reporting on violence against women, Handle With Care, which is excellent and should be read by all journalists.


Alongside the report we have together set up a new online project to gather examples of the every day drip drip of sexist media reporting. You can browse and upload your examples of sexist media here and don't forget to tweet about it too: #everydaymediasexism. We may use some of these examples during the ongoing debate about press reform in the UK.


Taking our work as inspiration, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has also announced that she is compiling her own report to ministers on sexist media. More details can be found here, and Caroline can also be tweeted at@CarolineLucas using the hashtag #sexistpress.

Challenging attitudes online

A woman is raped every 9 minutes in Britain. Think rape is a joke? Watch We Are Man and see.

EVAW Coalition & Guardian host special Round Table event on online abuse

In July 2013 EVAW and the Guardian hosted a special discussion event with 20 assorted experts on the phenomenon of abuse of women and girls in social media and how this abuse is being challenged. The Guardian recorded a podcast at the event. You can listen to it here.