“Email and social media access attempts, extremely aggressive comments, photo montages, massive defamation and intimidation campaigns on WhatsApp. This is what women journalists are facing for doing our job,” said Brazilian journalist Bianca Santana.

Santana addressed a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)-led virtual event to tackle online harassment and abuse against women journalists on Thursday, 19 Mar.

She told the forum that the online and ICT worlds can be dangerous places for women journalists.

She reminded the gathering that she has experienced online abuse firsthand. A former consulting newspaper editor and human rights activist in Bangladesh, she has been a target of gender-based violence, sexual violence and harassment.

According to a 2020 report by the UN Human Rights Council titled ‘Combating violence against women journalists,’ not only are women attacked online at a rate far exceeding men, but they also face increasing sexualised content and stalking.

Quoting figures from a UNESCO-International Centre for Journalists study on online attacks on women journalists, UNESCO’s Chief of Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists Guilherme Canela said the attacks are widespread.

Over 900 women journalists from 125 countries took part in the study.

  • 73 per cent of respondents in the study said that they had experienced online violence in the course of their work,
  • 25 per cent had received threats of physical violence, and
  • 18 per cent were threatened with sexual violence.

“We need to remember that the right to freedom of expression is an essential means to tackle discrimination and gender-based violence.”

Read the full article about online abuse against women journalists from IPS at Eco-Business.