• A Letter To The Sun

    Sun Irresponsible Headline

    Dear David Dinsmore,

    We applaud you for your current campaign highlighting the issues of slavery and violence against women.

    However, there were some issues with how you reported a recent story, that we would very much like you to explain.

    1) You wrote a front-page story, ‘I was sex slave in Fred West’s old house’ about a 24-year-old woman called Nikola who, when aged 18, was lured to Britain by the promise of a better life. But she had been tricked by a gang, four members of which were later jailed for trafficking for sexual exploitation. And yet, in the middle of this story, you chose to show a picture of a topless 21-year-old woman.
    Why did you think that was a sensible placement for this image? We understand that it was on Page 3, but you have a history of moving the Page 3 image for a variety of editorial reasons and even of omitting it entirely from the paper, why was the story of trafficking and rape against a young woman not one of those times?

    2) The two huge headlines ‘I was sex slave in Fred West’s old house’ and ‘Slave gang forced me to have sex with 5 men at a time’ use the personal pronoun and therefore appear to have been said by the survivor, however these are not quotes from the article. Did you fabricate these headlines? And if so do you think it sensible to ascribe words to a survivor of such a devastating crime?

    3) You used the word ‘sex’ in both the headlines, ‘I was sex slave in Fred West’s Old House’ and ‘Slave gang forced me to have sex with 5 men at a time’ – The term ‘sex’ inadequately represents the violent situation that the women in the article experienced. And as you are a family newspaper and this front page was displayed in petrol stations, supermarkets, shops etc across the country, is this not a misrepresentative and dangerous misuse of the word ‘sex’?

    Please could you explain your reasoning behind this.

    This request is not fueled by a zealous dislike of The Sun as you recently commented. As you know, the majority of the No More Page 3 team grew up with The Sun in their households: we acknowledge The Sun’s place in British society, but would simply like to see you represent women, and report stories of violence against them, with respect.

    We would very much appreciate a response.

    No More Page 3


  1. Judith Anderson says: January 10, 2014 at 3:47 pmReply

    Well done Lucy , let him have it , very well said x

  2. I Clare says: January 10, 2014 at 4:30 pmReply

    This story illustrates why the new complaints procedure needed to allow complaints from 3rd parties representing groups in society. Without this provision the new complaints provision is still ineffective. This form of reporting of sexual abuse is insensitive , sensationalist and eroticses abuse. Putting soft porn in the middle of the reporting is unbelievable. Stories of abuse should not be made into entertainment and this report clearly does just that. The Sun goes on about ‘choice’ but where is the ‘choice’ for women to be free from such disrespect and discrimination.

  3. Jo says: January 10, 2014 at 4:50 pmReply

    Thanks for taking this up Lucy.

    We were horrified by the use of language in this piece, and believe the response by The Sun describing women campaigners as ‘zealots’ was frankly ridiculous.

    The NUJ produce guidelines for a reason. If no-one uses them, and as 3rd parties we have no recourse for complaint, what is the point of the NUJ working towards a media that reports violence against women accurately and appropriately?

    We thank you for your taking the time to contact The Sun about this issue, and we look forward to a more considered and positive response from them.

  4. Local Mums Online says: January 10, 2014 at 5:02 pmReply

    We whole-heartedly support this letter. As parents we urgently call for newspapers like The Sun to report the crime of rape responsibly. The Sun is frequently viewed by children in shops and public places and it is very damaging and confusing for children to see this crime reported in a sexualised and trivialised way.

  5. Ben says: January 10, 2014 at 5:17 pmReply

    I don’t quite get the problem? What if the frontline is Syria deaths or whatever? Page 3 is page 3 and not breaching your rights.

  6. JD says: January 10, 2014 at 6:17 pmReply

    As much as I agree that this sad prurient attitude to women is reprehensible, I blame the readers and idiots who buy the paper. The Sun would soon change its tune if sales fell. Just why do any women buy this rag? But they do. Sad cases one and all.

  7. Frances Hazlitt says: January 10, 2014 at 8:03 pmReply

    I agree that this report was entered in a completely unacceptable and insensitive form and ask that you do not confuse rape with having sex.

  8. Lucy says: January 10, 2014 at 9:12 pmReply

    We have just received this statement of suuport from the campaign, Child Eyes, in response to this letter.

    ‘Child Eyes has followed media reporting of rape for over a year. We are horrified by the way that many tabloid newspapers use the word sex to describe this serious crime. ‘Sex slave’, ‘Sex scandal’ and other such sensational words devalue the seriousness of the crime and turn it into a titillating story. Sex is a wonderful act that is shared by two adults whereas rape is a serious crime where one party does not consent. There is a huge difference and we believe that the way that rape is reported is affecting children and young people’s perception of the nature of rape. We condemn the reckless reporting of rape and slavery alongside soft porn in The Sun on 7 Jan 2014.

    We expect a full apology for using sexually arousing images in the middle of inappropriate reporting of rape. While we salute any attempt to prevent slavery and rape, we believe that this is not the intention of The Sun’s campaign. If it were, they would have followed the guidelines set out by the National Union of Journalists on violence against women.’

  9. Chloe says: January 10, 2014 at 9:16 pmReply

    I am sick & tired of walking into shops/garages with my 8year old son & seeing topless women, women bending over & showing their arses!!
    It’s gross & NOT how I want my son to grow up viewing women in this way.

  10. Brian Smyth says: January 10, 2014 at 10:42 pmReply

    Very well done. Well spotted and well named. I wholeheartedly support you on this and on just about everything.

  11. Anne says: January 11, 2014 at 12:52 amReply

    Lucy you hit the nail firmly on the head. The Sun is vitriolic in its condemnation of ‘sex beasts’ but they are inviting men to be sex beasts with their puerile pictures of large boobs.
    They can’t have their cake and eat it. They can’t masquerade as defenders of women when they are assaulted AND print pictures which encourage men to see women as their prey.

  12. Dan Factor says: January 15, 2014 at 4:26 pmReply

    Why are you still treating The Sun as a serious newspaper?

  13. Dan Factor says: January 15, 2014 at 4:28 pmReply

    “the majority of the No More Page 3 team grew up with The Sun in their households: we acknowledge The Sun’s place in British society”

    What place has this right-wing newspaper got in our society? To peddle tabloid crap? To push sensationalism and ill informed bullshit as news?

  14. Bea says: January 17, 2014 at 11:00 amReply

    Dan Factor: The political stance of the news paper is irrelevant, there are papers that cover the full spectrum from left to right, and rightly so; if this were banned we would be promoting censorship of the media. Irrespective of wether you associate yourself politically with The Sun, depicting women in this way is offensive and has no place in a news paper that is available for anyone of any age to buy; and certainly none in the middle of an article about slavery and rape.

  15. Dan says: January 17, 2014 at 12:29 pmReply

    I’m not advocating banning the political stance of The Sun . I’m arguing to fight against it.

  16. Sarah says: January 25, 2014 at 2:02 amReply

    I definitely agree here! ‘Sex’ sounds reciprocal. The difference between rape and sex is the difference between being acted upon and being part of the activity.
    Not to mention the fact that ‘sex slave’ just doesn’t have the same negative connotations as ‘rape’. You hear ‘sex slave’ bandied about in conversation but nobody uses the term ‘rape’ lightly.
    It does run the risk of seeming like the are sexualising a violent assault here. Very sordid.

  17. Maria says: February 7, 2014 at 11:22 pmReply

    I’m sick of sexism, naked or semi naked females every movie. Add , magazine etc and no men . Men would go mental if this were the other way around
    It’s not fair. I can’t do anything about it . But I refuse to watch anything that shows a female body when there is not equally male nudity for my entertainment
    by maria • Just now
    Post Answer

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