Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Commander Tyson Nicholas recently moderated a United Nations panel debate on challenges, responsibilities and solutions for the media’s coverage of rape.
Held on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women at UN City in Copenhagen, international organisations and the Australian Embassy in Denmark facilitated the debate.
Lieutenant Commander Nicholas has extensive academic and practical experience in the topics of human security; women, peace and security (WPS); and sexual violence.
He has previously researched conflict-related sexual violence at Lund University, lectures on the topic and completed gender adviser training at the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations in Sweden.
“I was honoured to be asked to moderate the debate,” Lieutenant Commander Nicholas said.
“Although this issue is very confronting, it’s only by discussing the topic that we can begin to address possible solutions.
“The role of the media in reporting rape and other forms of sexual violence can either help or hinder this problem.
“So it’s vital the media doesn’t reinforce myths about the causes of this horrendous form of violence,” Lieutenant Commander Nicholas said.
The panel included a number of prominent advocates for tackling violence against women, including Liz Ford, a deputy editor with the Guardian newspaper.
“It’s important to discuss media’s coverage of rape because we need to remember there’s a real person who has survived this, and because we need to make sure our reporting pushes governments and the courts to take action to support survivors,” Ms Ford said.
Lieutenant Commander Nicholas is deployed as an operational planner and gender adviser on the ADF’s Operation Accordion in the Middle East region.
He provides advice to commanders on human security, gender in military operations and conflict-related sexual violence.
“Sexual violence continues to be used as a deliberate strategy in armed conflict that disproportionately effects women and girls, as highlighted by the WPS agenda under UN Security Council Resolution 1820.
“The media has an essential role to play in shining a light on this global issue,” Lieutenant Commander Nicholas said.
“Events like this panel debate are important as they not only bring international attention to this problem, but also allow the media to reflect on ways they can improve responsible reporting of sexual violence.
“We still have a long way to go, but I remain hopeful that with the right media attention and a more systematic approach to ending impunity for these international crimes, the global community can double-down on efforts to eliminate gender-based violence,” he said.