International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women: November 25, 2013

When we speak, each year, of violence against women journalists, we must take into account that women journalists are threatened, attacked, bullied, harassed, raped and sometimes killed for being women, for being journalists and sometimes, for being women journalists.  

As women, 70% of us will experience violence in our lifetime, a human rights violation and, according to the UN  "a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and also in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women." 

As journalists, with more and more women entering the profession, we have discovered that they - more often their male colleagues, are the subject of threats, harassment, violence and rape used as a tool to silence their voice. Sometimes it is by corrupt governments, sometimes the harassment is on the job and is aimed at removing them from the workforce. Sometimes, they are attacked or raped for doing their job.

As women journalists, sometimes we are attacked, harassed, raped and even killed for being just that - female journalists. 

All of these acts of violence end our contribution, our voice and in some cases, our lives. Almost all of these acts of violence are done with absolute impunity, the perpetrators safe in the knowledge that so very few are ever brought to justice. This lack of justice helps not only to silence these crimes, but to encourage more violence.

We also know that the few cases we are highlighting below are just the tip of the iceberg, as many acts of violence go unreported, especially sexual crimes are often still considered too taboo to report.

According to reports sent to the IFJ, six women journalists were killed this year in the course of their profession: 

In February, Rebecca Davidson, the deputy head of programming at the Dubai-based Arabian Radio Network was killed in a boat collision while on assignment in the Seychelles. She died when the vessel she was aboard struck another boat in the Indian Ocean archipelago.In March, Rahmo Abdulkadir, a female journalist working for Radio Abudwaq in central Somalia was shot at least five times in north Mogadishu, killing her instantly. She was 28 and the NUSOJ deems the killing to be part of serialized killings against journalists, as well as recent Mogadishu killings of women participating in society.  Baiu Lu, from the Urumqi Evening News died on 18 April, in an accident while conducting interviews on a construction site in Urumqi, capital of Northwest China.  Habiba Ahmet Abd Elaziz from UAE-based Xpress newspaper, was killed on the 14th  of August this year, together with four other journalists, reporting in Egypt. French reporter Ghislaine Dupont, working for the Radio France International (RFI) was  abducted and shot dead, together with a male colleague, in the Malian northern city of Kidal. Yarra Abbas, television correspondent for Al-Ikhbariyah TVwas killed on 27 May, while covering clashes near the border with Lebanon. 

Other acts of violence reported:

In Russia in July, Ekaterina Parkhomenko, a correspondent for the Kommersant publishing house was beaten  by police and  detained while reporting on protests in Moscow, and Galina Kramich, chief editor of local newspaper, was attacked  near her house in Shatura, Moscow region. In September, reporter Tatiana Rovenkova was beaten during a raid on the Khimki-Media office in Moscow. 

In the Congo, journalist Kamwira Wisdom, with the media group Canal Congo TV and Radio Liberty broadcasting in the North Kivu province of DRC was kidnapped by a group of four armed men and two women. They who tied her up and thrown her into a  river in the middle of the forest. Three days after her abduction she was found alive, 60 km away.
(with picture, from the Congo)

In UzbekistanUmida Akhmerdova, Uzbekistan's first camerawoman, faced imprisonment for "damage to the Uzbek nation"| because her  film " Burden of Virginity" highlighted medieval and misogynistic traditions in Uzbekistan. She was eventually released.

In Brazil since the start of several popular protests all over Brazil against the rising price of public transport, more than 50 media professionals were assaulted, attacked or imprisoned 19 of those media workers, were women. The attacks were executed by the police and demonstrators.

This are the most relevant cases: Shirley Barroso (TV record journalist), was assaulted by the police 

with tear gas bombs on 26th  June, in Belo Horizonte. Tahine Stochero and Gabriela Alves (Portal G1 reporters) were attacked by demonstrators and the police during the same demonstration. Camila Pereira (Portal D24AM reporter) andMarina Pagno (Bandeirantes Radio reporter), were assaulted and harassed by demonstrators on the 20th  June. Camila Henriques (Portal G1) and Izildinha Toscano (Amazon Portal) were attacked by demonstrators on September 7. Ana Kreep(Folha de Sao Paulo reporter) and Gisele Brito (Rede Brasil Atual), were attacked by the police with gas pumps and Gisele was bitten in her face with a stick, on June 13. Giuliana Vallone (Folha de Sao Paulo reporter), was attacked by the police with rubber bullets in her eyes, on June 13 in Sao Paulo. Aline Moraes (TV Brasil) was also reached by rubber bullets. Francine Spinasse (Tribune) was hit by rubber bullets fired by the Police Special Mission Battalion (BME). The police was trying to disperse protesters on June 20. Barbara Hora, assessor of Iriny Lopes, a Congresswoman (PT/ES), who was covering the demonstration for the social networking. She was arrested by the military police and thrown to the ground. Barbara was detained for several hours accused of contempt. Claudia Carvalho (Site Parlamento PB), suffered verbal attacks by  the Alderman Joao Almeida (PMDB/Pb) for her professional behaviour,  in retaliation to the critics made by the journalist, in October, in  Joao Pessoa City.

For all of these women, and those that feel unable to report the violence against them, the Gender Council of the IFJ decided one day was not enough to highlight the violence and yearly list these vicious, cowardly acts. So today, November 25, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) will launch a global campaign denouncing violence against women journalists and to alert public authorities to take responsibility to end impunity. 

We are also launching a Working Party of the Gender Council, not only to keep the spotlight on these crimes against our members, but to organise regular protests and to create a data file where attacks may be reported. Zuliana Lainez, member of the IFJ gender council and the IFJ executive committee has been named head of the Working Party.

The IFJ  encourages journalists, their unions and friends to express their concerns over violence against women journalists on #IFJVAW.

Mindy Ran

Co-Chair IFJ Gender Council