LONDON—Britain’s inquiry into media ethics shifted its focus away from phone hacking Tuesday to look into how women are portrayed in UK newspapers.
Women’s rights campaigners told the inquiry that newspapers treat women as sex objects and mis-report cases of rape and domestic violence.
Anna Van Heeswijk of women’s campaigns group Object said that sexualized images of topless or skimpily clad women in British tabloid newspapers damage the way young women think of their appearances and lifestyles.
She said anyone who complained about the newspapers use of these images in turn was vilified, and pointed to how The Sun newspaper called lawmaker Clare Short “fat, jealous” when she tried to stop the tabloid from printing a daily photograph of a topless woman on page three.
“Clearly the effect has been to close down free speech in relation to groups and individuals making a critique against these newspapers,” Van Heeswijk said.