Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma (a project of the Columbia Journalism School) recently launched the first guidelines for the media on covering sexual violence in conflict zones to encourage ethical behaviour, help journalists improve their reporting, and reduce the risk to further harm survivors.

You can find them here: www.coveringcrsv.org.

Journalists are often the first to get to meet and interview survivors of sexual violence in conflict situations, but rarely get any training or support. The guidelines are intended to be practical and cover issues like consent, (secondary) trauma, and interviewing survivors. This project represents the collective effort of dozens of working journalists and filmmakers – who all feel that journalists doing this challenging work need more tools and support.

Few journalistic challenges carry a greater weight of responsibility than interviewing survivors of sexual violence that occur in conflict. When rape is used in war, it has a devastating impact on individuals and their communities.

Responsible journalism can bring attention and insight to crimes that people have difficulty finding adequate words for. Careless reporting, however, can make things worse by adding to distress and exposing survivors to further danger. These guidelines are written by journalists and filmmakers who regularly work on CRSV related issues. They emerge from a recognition that as a collective enterprise journalism needs to do more to define and share best practice. The goal is to achieve more accurate and insightful reporting, while reducing the risk of further harm to those brave enough to tell their stories.