Media Action Against Rape (MAAR) is a Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) research and capacity building project led by Bournemouth University and UNESCO in New Delhi.
A 20-month study to map the journalistic challenges of reporting rape and sexual violence across India, MAAR will build capacity to engender sustainable impact—specifically, for rape reportage, journalism education, and resilience against gendered violence towards women. It has three main strands, as outlined below.
MAAR aims to analyse the processes involved in rape reportage across three phases:
Phase 1: review of existing reporting guidelines (from scholarly literature and industry).
Phase 2: MAAR has conducted one of the largest comparative content analysis of news reporting of rape in India, covering 10 newspapers across six languages in India for a three-month period (June to August 2018).
Phase 3: in-depth interviews with journalists to map the challenges national and regional journalists face, and the way they operationalise existing codes of practices (September 2018 – February 2019). This phase will cover newspaper, television, radio (including community radio), and online media.
Based on this research MAAR will produce a set of country-specific journalism guidelines. The guidelines will be included in a report published by UNESCO alongside research findings. This will provide an evidence base for capacity building workshops with journalists and development of targeted journalism curricula (see strand three below).
Contributing to public debate and creating inclusive public spaces for conversation about news reporting of rape and sexual violence is a crucial part of the MAAR project. We work on both online and offline campaigns to help raise awareness and engage with a wide range of audiences and stakeholders.
Journalism about journalism: NewsTracker is an anti-rape web site that scrutinises the representation of sexual violence in the Indian news media. Led by Bournemouth University and Ashoka University, it publishes ‘journalism on the journalism of rape’. We believe news journalists have a crucial role to play in combatting sexual violence. They can question stereotypes; influence attitudes, beliefs; help us rethink the way we read, we write, we think about rape and solutions for rape. Read more about NewsTracker.
Events: MAAR is hosting a series of events in November 2018 to coincide with the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November) and the #16days of activism campaign. These include panel debates in New Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai, as well as theatre performances in Pune and Chennai.
Our research and professional practice is designed to support journalists, NGO workers and educators who work with news reporting of rape and sexual violence. These are underpinned by our research and developed in consultation with industry stakeholders.
Newsletter and database: Tracking news reports of rape and sexual violence across a country as vast and diverse as India, a nation with thousands of national and regional news publications, is a painstaking task. Note This is our twice-weekly newsletter, curated from national and regional news sources, especially for those interested in the news reporting of rape and sexual violence. We also publish the raw data that feeds our newsletter in a public Google Sheet as an additional resource.
Workshops: In the third phase of the MAAR project, Summer and Autumn 2019, we will conduct capacity building workshops in partnership with UNESCO and our project partners to train journalists in best practice guidelines on news reporting of rape and gendered violence. These will take place in urban and regional locations.
Journalism curricula: We will develop sample curricula on news reporting of rape and sexual violence, which we will work with our education partners to incorporate into journalism education to encourage sensitive reporting practices in future journalists.