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To: All UK TV network bosses and Ofcom
Provide support information after all TV shows that feature sexual violence
Ensure that links to support information are provided after all programmes containing sexual violence, whether they're shown live, downloaded or streamed on websites or online apps.
Set up a written code of ethics so that support information is provided consistently, including instances where sexual violence is hinted at or is less explicit, for example in storylines involving coercion.
Ensure that links to support information is similarly provided consistently around other serious issues including domestic violence and suicide.
Why is this important?
Statistics show that three quarters of survivors contacting Rape Crisis centres do so over an incident that occurred at least 12 months earlier (1). It has been shown that where television programmes include storylines on sexual violence, there has been an increase in calls to support helplines. The Rape Crisis Helpline experienced a 132% increase in calls after the showing of Broadchurch (2), a similar spike in calls to support helplines was experienced following the rape of David Platt in Coronation Street (3). This information shows that survivors are often prompted to seek support following depictions of sexual violence on television.
We are concerned that whilst terrestrial channels have moved to provide support information, they are inconsistent in their approach and this information is not available at all when the same programmes are watched via the internet/download apps (4).
Having support information available consistently and across all platforms helps people access support when they need it. By not having this information available it can leave viewers unsafe when affected by such content. In addition, it can also give out confusing messages around consent, sex and rape, when support information is not given after storylines where content is less explicit – for example in storylines involving coercion.
1. Three quarters of adults contacting rape crisis centres do so over an incident that occurred at least 12 months earlier https://rapecrisis.org.uk/get-informed/rcew-statistics/
2. The Rape Crisis Helpline experienced a 132% increase in calls after the showing of Broadchurch http://thesurvivorstrust.org/news/broadchurch-impact-survivors-support-services/
3. Coronation Street male rape scene: Helplines see spike in calls https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-43498590
4. Recent examples where support information is not available after programmes provided online include:
• The rape of Ruby Allen in EastEnders and subsequent court scenes – BBC1
• Victoria Sugden Rape in Emmerdale - ITV
• Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson and Me – Channel 4
Image Copyright: Laura Dodsworth