Proposed Gender Code of Ethics for the Media
Gender equality is an integral part of freedom of expression as all gender categories have the right to be heard and seen in the public sphere as full-fledge citizens participating in a democratic society. Gender balance is thus important in news reporting. Equally important is the need to challenge prevailing gender stereotypes.
Journalists endeavour to recognise the diversity of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, ability, sexuality, age and class. They shall strive to eliminate discrimination on the basis of gender from their respective publication and pledge to put more effort to provide for more balance, fairness and accuracy in their reports. They shall strive to be inclusive by seeking a diversity of voices rather than rely solely on usual male dominant sources.
Journalists and media houses shall NOT:
- use discriminatory or sexist language. In case they are citing such language as used by the subjects of their articles, they shall use appropriate quotation marks and reporting verbs while taking care not to promote or support the person quoted.
- depict women in general as inferior, secondary class citizens.
- resort to gender stereotyping of roles (e.g. loving, caring women, tough men, effeminate gays, masculinised lesbians, etc.).
- have recourse to the commoditisation of the female body and gratuitous sexualised and eroticised views of women who are portrayed in the news.
- pander to lurid curiosity.
- publish the identity (name, picture) of rape victims and victims of sexual violence and other sexual offences without informed consent. They shall take all precautions to protect the identity of such victims so that the latter are not subjected to stigmatisation and further trauma.
- glamourise violence against women and sexual minorities such as lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender (LGBT).
- advocate hatred based on gender, nor incite to cause harm.
- encourage misogyny and the reinforcement of patriarchy.
In the workplace, media houses shall allow journalists to work across a diversity of beats, irrespective of gender category. They shall ensure that selection, recruitment, career pathing, capacity building, training, fast tracking and promotion are devoid of gender discrimination and that there is no tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace. They shall encourage friendly work practices and mutual respect between men and women. Media houses shall encourage the active pursuit of knowledge in gender issues and incorporate same in their training programmes. They shall develop policies to ensure gender balance in coverage and gender equality in the workplace.
This Gender Code of Ethics should be read in line with any General Code of Ethics, whether developed by media houses, media associations or regulators.