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Study on cyber-harassment of women journalists

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Journalism can be a dangerous profession, but women journalists are exposed to alarming additional risks that range from discrimination, sexual harassment and cyber-harassment to rape threats, sexual attack, rape and even murder.

To mark International Women’s Day, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has published a report entitled “Sexism’s toll on journalism” that reveals the extent of these dangers in 112 countries. They lie in wait for women journalists not only when they are doing traditional reporting in the field but also on the Internet and social media, and even where they should be protected, in their own newsrooms. Discover what says the sexisms_toll_on_journalism Report

Journalists already face multiple risks, in war zones and, increasingly, in conflict-free countries. Year after year, dangers have increased for journalism itself. Globally, worrying political changes are taking place, such as the rise of despotic regimes and the weakening of democracies. Chaos in the flow of information, facilitated by social media, puts journalism in an impossible position in the face of unfair and farcical competition from government propaganda, paid-for content and rumours.

We (SANEF and Media Houses) have a pressing obligation to defend journalism with all our strength against the many dangers that threaten it, of which gender-based and sexual bullying and attacks are a part. It is unthinkable that women journalists should endure twice the level of danger and must defend themselves on another front, a many-sided struggle since it exists outside the newsroom as well as inside.

This RSF survey, ‘Sexism’s toll on Journalism’ shows that the two-fold danger to which many women journalists are subjected is far too common, not only in traditional reporting fields as well as new digital areas and the Internet but also where they should be protected: in their own newsrooms.

By sexism, RSF means all forms of gender-based violence, including discrimination, insults, sexual harassment, unwanted touching, verbal and physical sexual assaults, threats of rape and even rape itself. These activities have a damaging effect on the diversity of news and information.

Our survey is based mainly on the assessment of responses to a questionnaire sent to 150 people in 120 countries. According to 85 per cent of the respondents, when impunity prevails, acts of sexist violence are liable to be repeated and another woman journalist could fall victim to the same perpetrator.

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