Felicia Sonmez was a political reporter at The Washington Post expecting to cover an explosive story on her beat — sexual assault allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh — when top editors told her she couldn’t. One reason managing editor Cameron Barr gave her, Sonmez recounts in a lawsuit against her employer, is that her previous public statements on her own sexual assault equated to having “taken a side on the issue.”

Sonmez’s accusations — that the Post punished her and derailed her career because she came forward about a 2017 sexual assault — point to a broader problem, experts and survivors say: that newsrooms are failing to protect and defend women journalists who are already at risk.

“Whether it’s in the newsroom or outside of the newsroom, I think you would be hard pressed to find a woman reporter who has not experienced” harassment or assault, said Elisa Lees Muñoz, executive director of the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). “The fact that you haven’t experienced it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The fact that you haven’t experienced it means that you’re really lucky, because most women have.”

The CDC found in 2015 that nearly 1 in 5 women experience rape or attempted rape at some point in their lives. The IWMF’s most recent report found that 58 percent of women journalists surveyed in 2018 reported being generally threatened or harassed in person.

Tulika Bose, an associate producer at Mashable, said she chose to speak out about her own assault — which occurred in 2015 while she was freelancing in Nepal — “in hopes that other people do the same … that more women are out.” She called what Sonmez laid out in her lawsuit “horrific.”

“If you look at the fact that 1 in 5 women are assaulted and you look at how many reporters there are — there are a lot of us,” Bose said. “It’s just that not everyone is talking about it.”

Read the full article about women journalists facing abuse by Orion Rummler at Nieman Lab.