Why this?

These guidelines have emerged out of a series of conversations between experienced journalists and filmmakers who have worked regularly on stories that deal with sexual violence and torture in countries afflicted by conflict.

Everyone doing this work has the best of intentions. But at some stage all of us have asked ourselves whether our engagement risks doing further harm to the people whose stories we are trying to tell. 

Members of the media are often the first to interview survivors of sexual violence in conflict situations, but rarely get any training or support.  

Hence there’s a need for this resource. The guidelines boil the issues down to eight key skill areas – which we believe that any journalist or filmmaker working on CRSV needs to understand. These eight propositions are designed to be read both in depth and in a format that allows quick revision and sharing with colleagues. They are intended to be practical and responsive to realities on the ground.

While these were written by media workers for media workers, they come out of a broader series of conversations. In creating these materials, we consulted survivors of CRSV (some of whom are activists and all of whom are experts), trauma clinicians, social workers and lawyers, as well as photographers, filmmakers, journalists and editors.

This is a complex area. These guidelines don’t cover every situation a media worker will face – and inevitably not everyone will agree with all our recommendations.

Nevertheless, we have tried hard to balance two truths.  The first is that unless these acts of violence are documented, there is no chance they will stop. And the second is that when it comes to sexual violence every survivor owns their own story – it does not belong to us.

What next?

We created these guidelines to spark conversation and generate awareness: they are made to share. Please distribute to anyone who may benefit from them.

We invite your feedback and look forward to future dialogue.

If you are interested in finding out more about the work of the Dart Centre, please sign up for our mailing list here.

Credits and acknowledgements

Read about how this resource was produced.

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This resource was produced by Dart Centre Europe, a network and resource for journalists and filmmakers who cover trauma and violence, and so the first credit has to go to everyone who has contributed to the Centre’s discussions over the years. The core organising and writing team was made up of Gavin Rees, Samira Shackle, Stephen Jukes, Juliana Ruhfus, Leslie Thomas and Christina Lamb. Thanks too to everyone who took part in our direct consultations.

This project was made possible through funding form the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative.


Read what others have said about these guidelines.

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Dart Centre Europe 
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