Setting the Story Straight: Project Background
Setting the Story Straight is a Savera UK project funded by the Lloyds Bank Foundation Small Change Fund. The project was launched to examine how ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful culturally specific practices – such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage – were represented in the media.
The campaign culminated in a free public webinar in 2022 (which can be viewed here) in which the results of a survey of professionals working in this area and survivors of HBA and harmful practices were shared and discussed by a panel of professionals, survivors and journalists, including: Harmful practice survivors and campaigners, Khatra Paterson, Zuleika Sassa and Saliha Rashid, as well as radio presenter, producer and journalist, Ngunan Adamu, women’s correspondent at The Independent, Maya Oppenheim, CEO & Founder of Savera UK, Afrah Qassim.
Survey Outcomes – HBA Survivors
The survey asked about the representation of these practices, the communities they affect and how the media works with survivors. The research found:
55% of survivors disagreed or strongly disagreed that they saw people like them, with shared experiences of HBA and harmful practice, represented in UK media
82% of survivors felt that the UK media DID NOT do a good job of representing survivors of HBA and harmful practices and 64% felt it DID NOT do a good job of representing these issues or affected communities
55% of survivors surveyed said they WOULD agree to be interviewed by a journalist as they felt it was important to raise awareness, but those who said they would not be interview cited lack of trust and security
Of survivors who responded to the survey 45% HAD previously been interviewed by a journalist
Of those 60% of survivors felt their interviewer DIDN’T have a good understanding of HBA and harmful practices or the impact that sharing their story would have on them.
80% of survivors said that no aftercare (so support, advice or check-in) was put in place for them after the interview.
Survey Outcomes – Professionals
96% of professionals responded that coverage of HBA and harmful practices in the UK media DOES NOT represent the scale of the problem
77% of professionals disagreed or strongly disagreed that the UK media demonstrated a good understanding of these issues while 92% thought that representation of people and communities affected by HBA and harmful practices was inaccurate
Only 4% of professionals believed that UK journalists were well equipped to identify people at risk or seek or signpost to help (58% disagreed or strongly disagreed).
69% of professionals thought that reporting techniques employed by journalists, such as door knocks, using interpreters and interviewing community members could put individuals at greater risk of HBA.
65% of professionals thought that UK media reinforces negative stereotypes about HBA and harmful practices and the communities affected by them
The discussion led to the creation of the first comprehensive set of media guidelines and best practices focused specifically on reporting on HBA and harmful practices and working with survivors to tell their stories. These guidelines and other useful resources can be found below and will be updated with new guidance as and when required.