Essay on News Reports On Victims And Sexual Violence

Essay on News Reports On Victims And Sexual Violence

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As a consequence of increased sensualised news reports the details, characteristics and actions of the victim tend to be described within news reports. It could be argued that a focus on victims’ actions and behaviour is presented to attribute blame to the female victim. Meyers (1997) suggests the description of the victim’s actions aims to represent female victims as “responsible of her own suffering because she was on drugs, drunk, not properly cautious, stupid, engaged in questionable activities or involved in work or exhibiting behaviour outside the traditional role of women” (p.60). Additionally, Benedict (1992) highlights that traditionally women have been represented as either the ‘Vamp’ or the ‘Virgin’ within news reports on sexual violence. The ‘Vamp’ represented as a woman who is blameworthy of her attack because of her looks, actions and behaviour which drove the man to attack her, whereas the ‘Virgin’ is portrayed as a blameless woman who has had her innocence brutally taken from her by a perverted man (Benedict, 1992). The presentation of adult, female victims of sexual violence as blameworthy aims to deny some their victimisation status. The denial of victimisation of particular groups or individuals with particular characteristics illustrate that some victims are seen to be more deserving of this status in comparison to others.

Another way in which female victims of sexual violence are sometimes denied their victimisation status is through selective and limited reporting in the news. The way in which adult, female victims of sexual violence are presented within the news is very limiting and selective, with many being completely ignored. Christie (1986) suggests that news media tends to prioritise reports that invo...

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...ual images such as “did not object to him kissing her or to sitting astride him when he was naked,” were used (Verkaik, 2002, n.p). The Sun’s presentation of a gang rape involving the basketball star Derrick Rose used sexual images in the aim of deferring attention away from the alleged perpetrators. “Rose has claimed that the woman accusing him of gang rape not only consented but gamely yanked him over for oral sex, even while in the throws of passion with his pal” (March & Fears 2013, n.p). The presentation of female victims of sexual violence in a sensualised way transfers focus away from the crime and perpetrator instead focusing on the victim and her sexual nature, which is often used to imply her promiscuity, which is extended to suggest that she is partly responsible for her attack.

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