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Increased threat against women journalists

There is a significant rise of organized troll campaigns, as well as physical threats, targeting women journalists. This threat is one that should not just trigger anger and outrage, it must inspire political, structural, and societal change, says former foreign correspondent Kiran Nazish who has launched The Coalition for Women in Journalism. She is also the Stanley Knowles Distinguished Professor at Brandon University in Canada.

”From India, the world’s largest democracy, to Northern Ireland, CFWIJ monitored cases of violence and threats against women journalists. We documented how women journalists have been subjected to violence both online and offline across 74 countries. These cases included various forms of physical violations, from kidnapping to murder, harassment, and attacks.”

Media organizations do not take sufficient responsibility when these threats take place. Often, they do not even report on the violations their reporters face. A lack of institutional support can be especially difficult for the many women who are freelance journalists.

”We also observed increasing attempts to silence women’s journalistic work through state persecution and the weaponization of law, among other tactics.”

“In 2020 alone, CFWIJ documented 716 cases of threats and violence against women journalists. This was an increase of 138.6% in comparison to 2019, when we documented 291 cases. These include impediments in the field, detentions, imprisonments, legal harassment, and physical attacks.”

She reports most of these violations are linked to the widespread efforts to suppress Covid-19 related coverage by many governments.

“Astonishingly, this includes The United States”, she writes in a post.

She refers to protest from the US to Belarus saying we saw women journalists on the frontline, consistently targeted while trying to document demonstrations.

”Our work reflects the deteriorating working conditions in which women journalists continue to do their jobs. They remain alarmingly vulnerable to attacks. Certainly, the physical threats are a major call for concern. However, online trolling remains one of the most critical tools that has been weaponized against women in the media.”

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