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Improve reporting on domestic violence deaths

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petition, guidelines, editors code, reporting domestic violence deaths, Level Up, IPSO, It is vital for the safety of women that domestic violence myths are not perpetuated.

Every week in the UK, two women are murdered by a current or former partner.

But when domestic violence deaths are reported in the media it is most often in a way that compromises the dignity of the deceased woman and her surviving family.

But every badly worded article on domestic violence is a missed opportunity to help prevent further deaths.

Responsible reporting can improve public understanding of domestic violence, help victims and their families seek justice and help women at risk access support.

Bad reporting also has lasting traumatic impacts on surviving family members.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is the largest press governing body in the UK, and campaigners Level Up are now calling for IPSO to introduce guidelines on reporting domestic violence deaths.

Guidelines such as:

1 – Accountability: Place responsibility solely on the killer, which means avoiding speculative “reasons” or “triggers”, or describing the murder as an uncharacteristic event. Homicides are usually underpinned by a longstanding sense of ownership, coercive control and possessive behaviours: they are not a random event.

2 – Accuracy: Name the crime as domestic violence, instead of “tragedy” or “horror”, and include the National Domestic Violence Helpline at the end of the article: 0808 2000 247.

3 – Dignity: Avoid sensationalising language, invasive or graphic details that compromise the dignity of the dead woman or her surviving family members.

4 – Equality: Avoid insensitive or trivialising language or images.

5 – Images: Avoid using stock images that reinforce the myth that domestic violence is only a physical crime.

Responsible reporting can improve public understanding of domestic violence, help victims and their families seek justice and help women at risk access support.

Murder of a partner must never be excused as an act of love or emotion.

Mainstream media is responsible for shaping people’s ideas and attitudes about the world around them.

It is vital for the safety of women therefore that myths around domestic violence are not perpetuated.

Please sign and share this petition and help to bring about change in the way domestic abuse murder is reported.

As Liz Kelly, Professor and Director of the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit, London Metropolitan University, has pointed out: “Women killed by their partners do not have dignified deaths, the least they should be afforded is dignity after death.

“We also owe this to their children and relatives – grief can be compounded by careless media reporting. We need to care more, not less.”

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