Latest News & Current Events

Female journalists in danger

Women journalists are the victims of more sexual attacks than men—but until now there has been little quantification of those crimes. Now the the International Women's Media Foundation, in conjunction with the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, is preparing the conclusions of a month-long universal survey of female journalists.

The group’s report on the dangers faced by female journalists will be the basis of safety remedies designed by UNESCO. And for those who question whether such a study is needed: Two days after it launched, a 22-year-old photojournalist was gang raped while on assignment in Mumbai.

UNESCO is helping to fund and develop safety training based on the survey responses.

Though the IWMF already provides safety information and training to journalists, the goal of the survey is to assess the changing landscape of security concerns for journalists today. The results of the survey will be used to "better formulate programs that address safety concerns," said Elisa Lees Munoz, executive director of the nonprofit organization.

Munoz said recent events in the Middle East underscore how female journalists are targeted. "That is not to say that men are not physically attacked, but there are specific ways in which woman are harassed," said Munoz.

Gerhard Doujak, head of human rights at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, said in an email that crimes against journalists can be compounded for women. "In many countries, reporting and investigating these crimes can prove more difficult due to social, religious or traditional stigmas," Doujak said.

On Aug. 29, in an Op-ed for The Boston Globe, Mumbai-based journalist Priyanka Borpujari described security concerns for female journalists in India and wrote that gender can mask everything else. "Many women realized that the phrase 'I am a journalist' did not feel powerful anymore," she wrote. "The sexist culture of the profession and the nation inhibit their jobs."


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