Publications that degrade women remain unmonitored

May 3, 2016

Neither law, nor ethics violations have been found after the investigation conducted by The Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics (OIJE) concerning news portal‘s previously published article „How do you identify a slut?“.

Call them what you want?


“How do you identify a slut?” asks the anonymous author of an article that appeared on one of the largest Lithuanian online news sites. “Girls only appear decent at first. The truth, however, is different — there are many loose young ladies among them. How do you avoid falling for one of them?”

With no offense spared, the article then proceeds to examine the girls’ purportedly immoral behaviour — how they talk on social media, how they behave at parties and what kind of girls guys should avoid.

“When sober, slut is very serious. But it takes only 15 gm of alcohol and she becomes wildly fun. Such mood swings show that while she is drunk, she is no longer the hostess of herself”.

The article’s authorship states that it was created and published by the news portal itself.

OIJE: neither law, nor ethics violations found

Human Rights Monitoring Institute was informed about the publication by the concerned reader according to whom this article incites hatred against women. HRMI in turn contacted three institutions: The Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson, The Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics and the Ethics Association for Public Information asking them to oblige the disseminator of the information to remove the humiliating publication.

HRMI‘s appeal stated that the above-mentioned publication is unethical, insults and humiliates women as a social group, deepens gender stereotypes and encourages discrimination, attributing negative characteristics to women because of their gender.

In 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination expressed its concerns over Lithuanian media publications that were degrading to women and stated that monitoring and supervision of such depiction is insufficient.

However, the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson did not accept the complaint –complaints regarding media conduct do not fall under the competence of the Ombudsperson.

The investigation was initiated by The Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics. Nevertheless, The Inspector came to conclusion that “there is no reason to say that the publication disseminated information that would openly despise or offend women as a social group”.

Having found no violations, the Inspector suspended the investigation. Moreover, there was nothing said about the ethics of this publication and its content.

Lack of media supervision

Compared to advertising, the dissemination of humiliating information in the media is practically unrestricted and not being monitored. For instance, director of UAB “Tavlinas” was warned last week by The Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman regarding the advertisement of SALDVA spices which depicted bare woman‘s breasts with the inscription  “For men who like natural …”.


Ombudsperson acknowledged that this advertisement violated the Law on Equal Opportunities and the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men.

According to the Ombudsperson, sexist portrayal of women in advertising of goods promotes gender inequality as it shapes degrading and disrespectful treatment of a woman, who is not attributed to socially significant role in society, but is turned instead into a tool, an object for entertainment and pleasure of men.

However, Ombudsperson in this situation cannot do much as her actions are limited by the law.

The law clearly identifies specific areas of the Ombudsperson‘s sphere of supervision and the media supervision does not fall into this category.

Ethic’s supervisors do not care about women’s rights?

Meanwhile, The Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics does not seem very interested in positive changes in gender equality. There is no initiative to promote positive changes, for example, by proposing to complement The Code of Ethics of Journalists and Publishers with provisions regarding representation of men and women in the media.

Ethics Association for Public Information, the one which drafted the new Code, did not answer to the HRMI‘s appeal although it was clearly pointed out that the Code lacks provisions on gender equality and non-discrimination.

Law on Provision of Information to the Public obliges public information producers and disseminators, journalists and publishers to follow the principles of equality and respect for human dignity, but it remains unclear who should oversee how the compliance with these principles works in practice.

Mėta Adutavičiūtė, Advocacy Officer, Human Rights Monitoring Institute.