RSF Reports Findings On Gender-Based Violence, Are Journalists Not Safe Even In Newsrooms?

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RSF Reports Findings On Gender-Based Violence, Are Journalists Not Safe Even In Newsrooms?

85% of female journalists believe that impunity prevails, the violence could be repeated and another female journalist could fall victim to the same perpetrator.

Journalists gather information on people's wrongdoings and disseminate it to the public. They are called the watchdogs of democracy. The people engaged in the profession of journalism face many risks in the field of reporting. The violence faced by female journalists is comparatively higher than the rest of the journalists, and they are unsafe not only while field reporting but also in cyberspace. The situation has become much worse, than female journalists are in need of protection even inside newsrooms.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published a report titled 'Sexism's toll on Journalism' to provide more insights into the injustices, sexual harassment, physical and verbal abuse, discrimination, and all other gender-based violence faced by female journalists worldwide. The report was made after conducting a survey by sending questionnaires to the correspondents of RSF and journalists who write about gender issues.

Field, Online & Newsroom No Safe Space For Female Journalists

According to the survey, the most occurred form of violence against female journalists is sexual harassment which accounts for 84% of violence. Other forms of violence include sexual assault and rape threats. French photojournalist Laurence Gear shared her experience, saying,

"Once, I was caught in a mob in the Central African Republic. Militiamen and civilians began to touch my arms, my face and my hair. I had to leave that day."

Everyone has the right to work, but female journalists have to call it a day when they can't report on-field matters due to people's sexist attitudes and behaviour.

Even though there have been various instances of sexist violence on the field, it is shocking to note that 73% of gender-based violence occur online. The Internet has become a most dangerous place for female journalists than the streets. Journalists' social media handles were spied on and abused for sexual purposes, and they were defamed using the same. Lily Mayers, an Australian television reporter, was shocked to find that dozens of screenshots from her private Instagram account had been shared on a public forum with a large following. People passed crude comments based on her looks and objectified her. Female journalists' get hacked and bullied online. Indian journalist Rana Ayyub has received various rape threats online. The latest incident of the "Bulli Bai" app shows how the misogynistic society had been trying to objectify women and silence their efforts to bring change.

Threats and violence against female journalists do not stop once they enter their newsrooms. Apart from the field and online spaces, they are not safe even in their own newsrooms. 51% of journalists say that superiors have perpetrated sexual violence on them. A few journalists like Sofie Linde, Gretchen Carlson, Megyn Kely have raised their voices against the perpetrators. However, many others put up with the acts of violence at the workplace.

The constant threats faced by female journalists forced 21% of them to change their speciality and 21% to even resign from the job. Sad is it when dreams are shattered due to other people's wrongdoings.

How To Overcome Gender-Based Violence?

Journalists are already dealing with a lot of dangers while reporting. Due to sexual violence, the risks faced by female journalists are doubled, making it twice as difficult for them to continue their work. Due to this reason, media houses might lose many of the efficient and dedicated female journalists. Gender-based violence has to be dealt with in the right way to ensure a safe workplace for every working person.

RSF has listed certain recommendations to curb gender-based violence against female journalists. Investigative reports on women's rights, gender-based violence etc., should be frequently published as stories. There should be equal representation of genders in workspaces as well as in work done. Sexual and sexist stereotyping in language

and illustrations should be eliminated. Internal emergency mechanisms and alert systems should be devised for the protection of women. More security and vigilance should be present. Journalists should be given the training to develop good reflexes and responses to cyber harassment. Apart from all these safety measures, everyone should be made aware of the fact that each individual deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.

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Writer : Sayujya Surjit
Editor : Snehadri Sarkar
Creatives : Snehadri Sarkar

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