CSW 62: Finding solutions to violence against women journalists

CSW 62: Finding solutions to violence against women journalists

Date: March 20, 2018
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By Tarisai Nyamweda

New York, 16 March: Gender Links (GL) and the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) convened their maiden parallel event at the Sixty Second Commission on the Status of Women.

The objective of the event was to workshop examples of best practices from news industry professionals, digital developers, academics, NGOs and other specialists & to kick-start the development of robust industry-wide guidelines on protecting women working in the media against sexualised violence.

This conversation comes at an opportune time when the world over is abuzz with the me too campaign and is a very topical issue that women from all walks life have been experiencing.

Despite growing evidence and acknowledgment of the threats sexualised and/or gendered cyber violence poses for media practice women journalists continue to be disproportionately affected by this phenomenon.

Tarisai Nyamweda, Media manager at Gender Links noted that beyond the hashtag #MeToo there needs to be  tangible efforts  in place to counter this and ensure that the conversation is sustained.

Speaking on the panel Dr. Michelle Farrier of University of Ohio  and creator of www.troll-busters.com, shared research results from a survey conducted with 600 women journalists. The survey showed that 80% of female journalists indicated an increase in threats or attacks online in recent years, and 37% of respondents said they have avoided telling certain stories altogether.

Nyamweda noted that violence against women journalists should be discussed within the framework of freedom of expression because when women are harassed online they begin to self censor and shy away from telling stories because they are afraid of what might happen to them if they speak out.

 Online abuse is a microcosm of society. It is not happening in a vacuum. It stems from deeply seated patriarchal attitudes, tendencies and beliefs that are continually created and  reinforced in our societies. It is a representation of what is happening in offline spaces. The violations that exist offline have transcended into online spaces and have  become much broader and more complicated to eradicate

The International Association of Women in Radio and Television calls for women working in the media to unite against online harassment, as cyber-violence against women working in the media becomes a particular area of concern for the realization of the Beijing Platform for Action.

Some recommendations include:

Sensitisation of the public  through Media and information literacy to also see this as a very important issue and how online abuse is impacting on the journalism profession

Strengthening the capacity of women journalists giving them Giving them the tools to keep safe online- training on safety and specialised support services for journalists who have survived violence or threats

Concerted efforts from media players themselves to recognise this is a serious problem especially facing their female counterparts

Policy and legislation that promotes journalists safety through  regulatory authorities bodies

Campaigning for strengthened and gender responsive ICT policies as the industry.

It is also important for the media development sector to record, document, and research the lived realities of women journalists encountering threats in their line of duty both offline and online in order to establish a baseline they can use for advocacy purposes that can contribute to improvements in journalists safety. We need this data to help sure strengthen our advocacy efforts

Solidarity among women in the industry to call out abusers.

Gender Links will be including online violence against women in its ongoing research on Glass Ceilings : Women in SA media houses to ascertain the extent and experiences faced by women journalists online.

Watch more from the panel here.

This article is part of GL News and Blogs service on coverage of CSW 62. Photo courtesy of Maria Edstrom

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