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Sexual Violence and the News Media: Issues, Challenges and Guidelines for Journalists in India
Place of publication | Year of publication | Collation: 
New Delhi | 2021 | 96 p.
ISBN 978-81-89218-78-2
Chindu Sreedharan; Einar Thorsen
Corporate author: 
UNESCO New Delhi
Asia and the Pacific
© UNESCO, 2021

This report presents the findings of a multilingual national study on the news reporting of sexual violence in India. Drawing on a content analysis of 10 newspapers covering six languages, and semi-structured interviews with 257 journalists working across 14 languages, it provides comparative insights into the routines journalists follow and the challenges they face when they cover sexual violence.

The report evidences how news outlets tend to disproportionately publish unusual cases, such as those involving extreme brutality; focus on rape in urban areas; and rely heavily on police sources. Journalists rarely undertake in-depth inquiries into the cases they cover. The challenges they face include safety issues while newsgathering, difficulties in accessing key sources, and distress from the requirements of their assignments. Overall, nearly 20% of our respondents experienced psychological challenges while reporting on sexual violence, and 55% of women journalists reported workplace sexual harassment or violence.

Based on the evidence, the report presents seven national and 10 organisational recommendations. It concludes by offering guidelines that individual journalists and media houses can adapt to suit their news routines.


Resource Type: 
Case studies and research papers
Media and Information Literacy
Human rights / Human dignity
Preventing violent extremism
Level of education: 
Higher education
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)


Sexual violence; Mass media; News media