Media Stories

Dangers to Female Journalists Get Added Up

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A month-long survey of female journalists about the dangers they face on assignment just ended and will be the basis of safety remedies designed by UNESCO. Two days after it launched, a 22-year-old photojournalist was gang raped while on assignment in Mumbai.




Rashida Kiani.
Pakistani Journalist Rashida Kiani

Credit: Internews Pakistan on Flickr

Bookmark and Share

(WOMENSENEWS)--The danger and intimidation surrounding female journalists can be told through many individual stories.

One of them belongs to Khadija Ismailova from Azerbaijan.

Opponents of hers placed a camera in her bedroom to record her and her boyfriend having intercourse, said Frank Smyth, senior advisor for journalist security at the , in an email. They used the recording "as a cruel and vulgar way to try and intimidate her."

Smyth said that all journalists face the same dangers today, "including intimidation or violence, in direct reprisal for their work."

Female journalists, he said, are frequently victims to "sexual character assassination," verbal and physical defamation based on rumors or situations taken out of context. "More women journalists have been sexually attacked than men."

While the stories of attacks on female journalists are proliferating, the documenting of these safety breaches is missing.

To overcome that lack, the International Women's Media Foundation, in conjunction with the International News Safety Institute and with the support of UNESCO and the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, initiated a month-long universal on Aug. 20. The results of the survey will be released in November.

A few days after the survey ended, Elisa Lees Munoz, executive director of the nonprofit organization, was still estimating how many surveys had been turned in. She said the sample size would certainly exceed 500 and could even reach 1,000 respondents.

Though the IWMF already provides safety information and training to journalists, the goal of the survey is to assess the changing landscape of security concerns for journalists today. The results of the survey will be used to "better formulate programs that address safety concerns," Munoz said.

Munoz said recent events in the Middle East underscore how female journalists are targeted. "That is not to say that men are not physically attacked, but there are specific ways in which woman are harassed," said Munoz.

Two days after the survey was launched, on Aug. 22, a 22-year-old photojournalist was gang raped while on assignment in Mumbai.

Gerhard Doujak, head of human rights at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, said in an email that crimes against journalists can be compounded for women. "In many countries, reporting and investigating these crimes can prove more difficult due to social, religious or traditional stigmas," Doujak said.

On , in an for The Boston Globe, described security concerns for female journalists in India and wrote that gender can mask everything else. "Many women realized that the phrase 'I am a journalist' did not feel powerful anymore," she wrote. "The sexist culture of the profession and the nation inhibit their jobs."

. Follow her on Twitter @ReshmiKO.

Subscribe

Would you like to Comment but not sure how? Visit our help page at http://www.womensenews.org/help-making-comments-womens-enews-stories.


Would you like to Send Along a Link of This Story?


 
2 COMMENTS | Login or Sign Up to post comments

RELATED STORIES

Journalist of the Month

Politkovskaya's Duty Is to Cover Chechnya's War

Journalist of the Month

Liberian Journalist Threatened for FGM Coverage

Journalist of the Month

Helen Thomas Leaves Her Front Seat on History

Journalist of the Month

Lauren Wolfe Crowdsources Rape, Sex Assault Data

As a matter of accuracy, this survey was launched by the International News Safety Institute, in conjunction with the International Women's Media Foundation. INSI has been working on providing safety advice and training to men and women journalists for a decade and has a particular expertise in the area of safety for women journalists. And yet, there is no mention of INSI in this article. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further details about this at info@newssafety.org

Attribution to the INSI's involvement has been made as of Oct. 1.

Women's enews events

Visit Our YouTube Channel

Visit Our Bookshelf