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Stop writing sex when you mean rape

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the sun, the difference between rape and sexDo newspaper editors not know the difference?

A recent letter to The Sun’s editor from the No More Page 3 campaign team has drawn attention to a couple of issues that have been needing addressing again for some time:

Dear David Dinsmore,

We applaud you for your current campaign highlighting the issues of slavery and violence against women.

However, there were some issues with how you reported a recent story, that we would very much like you to explain.

1) You wrote a front-page story, ‘I was sex slave in Fred West’s old house’ about a 24-year-old woman called Nikola who, when aged 18, was lured to Britain by the promise of a better life. But she had been tricked by a gang, four members of which were later jailed for trafficking for sexual exploitation.

And yet, in the middle of this story, you chose to show a picture of a topless 21-year-old woman.

Why did you think that was a sensible placement for this image?

We understand that it was on Page 3, but you have a history of moving the Page 3 image for a variety of editorial reasons and even of omitting it entirely from the paper. Why was the story of trafficking and rape against a young woman not one of those times?

2) The two huge headlines ‘I was sex slave in Fred West’s old house’ and ‘Slave gang forced me to have sex with 5 men at a time’ use the personal pronoun and therefore appear to have been said by the survivor, however these are not quotes from the article.

Did you fabricate these headlines? And if so do you think it sensible to ascribe words to a survivor of such a devastating crime?

3) You used the word ‘sex’ in both the headlines: ‘I was sex slave in Fred West’s Old House’ and ‘Slave gang forced me to have sex with 5 men at a time’.

The term ‘sex’ inadequately represents the violent situation that the women in the article experienced.

And as you are a family newspaper and this front page was displayed in petrol stations, supermarkets, shops etc across the country, is this not a misrepresentative and dangerous misuse of the word ‘sex’?

Please could you explain your reasoning behind this.

This request is not fueled by a zealous dislike of The Sun as you recently commented.

As you know, the majority of the No More Page 3 team grew up with The Sun in their households: we acknowledge The Sun’s place in British society, but would simply like to see you represent women, and report stories of violence against them, with respect.

We would very much appreciate a response.

Signed: No More Page 3.

The campaign group Child Eyes, commenting on the No More Page 3 campaign page in support of this letter said:

‘Child Eyes has followed media reporting of rape for over a year. We are horrified by the way that many tabloid newspapers use the word sex to describe this serious crime.

‘Sex slave’, ‘Sex scandal’ and other such sensational words devalue the seriousness of the crime and turn it into a titillating story.

Sex is a wonderful act that is shared by two adults, whereas rape is a serious crime where one party does not consent.

There is a huge difference and we believe that the way that rape is reported is affecting children and young people’s perception of the nature of rape.

We condemn the reckless reporting of rape and slavery alongside soft porn in The Sun on 7 January 2014.

We expect a full apology for using sexually arousing images in the middle of inappropriate reporting of rape.

While we salute any attempt to prevent slavery and rape, we believe that this is not the intention of The Sun’s campaign. If it were, they would have followed the guidelines set out by the National Union of Journalists on violence against women.’

And as Child Eyes and the No More Page 3 team point out, there are clear guidelines on reporting sexual violence, supported by the National Union of Journalists, and we here at WVoN and the No More Page 3 team believe The Sun editor, and his reporting team, should refer to these report guidelines in order to ensure they are reporting responsibly.

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