The International Federation of Journalists `Gender Council marked the
International Day for the elimination of violence against women by
recording an increase of violence in 2012 and joins the call for the
elimination of all forms of violence perpetrated against women and
girls. While the number of women journalists joining the profession
continues to rise, so does the level of violence aimed against them.
UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, refers to it as a "pandemic", and
quotes the horrifying statistic that 70% of all women will face some
form of violence in their lifetimes. "Violence against women harms
families and communities across generations and reinforces other
violence prevalent in society."
Sadly, the rise in violence on all levels seems to go hand-in-hand with
the increase of violence against women journalists. Last year, for the
first time, the twin stigmas of culture and profession were broken when a
few highly publicised cases of sexual assault against journalists took
the lid off the subject for the first time. More victims have been
coming forward to speak about these crimes, often used to intimidate and
silence, or as a ‘tool of war.'
This year, the IFJ Gender council has heard from local journalists
unions and activists of the rise in domestic abuse across Eastern and
Southern `Europe as the credit crisis creates more and more jobless, and
more frustration. In Greece, we have heard that as domestic abuse
increases , the cuts to infrastructure leave many of these women further
victimised, as support structures disappear. In Mexico, where thousands
of those killed through domestic violence each year effectively
disappear in terms of even statistics, as their deaths are often
recorded as ‘accidents'.
In Spain, local journalists unions are worried about the increases in
domestic violence, and the stereotypical way this is portrayed. They are
calling on journalists to be better informed about gender violence and
the visibility of women, beyond those as victims, in the media.
In the UK and Macedonia, there are reports of bullying hiding behind
their computer screens to harass, sexually harass and attempt to
intimidate and silence through the use of social media, and unions are
fighting back. In Serbia, women unions` leaders are threatened and
harassed by private media firms to try to stop them from exercising
their basic, human right to form and join unions.
Reports from Iran indicate that female journalists, bloggers and human
rights activists are on hunger strike because of sexual attacks and
abuse during a prison inspection, while female jailers looked the other
way. Female journalists live under added pressure, risk and danger of
assault and sexual assault, as well as loss of civil liberties and human
rights, as all rights can be stripped away when summoned by the
In Nepal, where there is a disproportionately low number of female
journalists, the rise of physical violence has the severest impact.
Women journalists are seen as ‘easy targets' and the local union reports
attacks ranging from intimidation to physical violence and murder, with
extreme situations like in Terai, where in one 3-month period, 70% of
female journalists left the profession, due to fear.
The IFJ and its Gender Council believe it is long past due to end this
social disease of fear, intimidation and violence that impacts so many
The International Day against violence targeting women was established
to honour female activists who sacrificed their life to female dignity,
the three Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic who were murdered for standing up - regardless of the fear.