#StopOnlineTrolling: Unions respond to online abuse of women journalists

IFJ affiliates have started taking action against online abuse of women journalists. Here is an inspiring compilation of what has been done so far.

Get inspired and join the campaign!

Australia: MEAA has called  for a united industry approach by media organisations to combat the prevalence of online harassment and abuse of women media workers.

In partnership with Gender Equity Victoria, MEAA has released a series of recommendations for media organisations to begin treating gender-based abuse against women journalists on social media and websites as an issue of health and safety and to take more responsibility for ensuring that women journalists are supported in the aftermath of attacks. The recommendations are contained in Don’t Read the Comments: Enhancing Online Safety for Women Working in the Media, a report launched on October 21, 2019, by MEAA and GEN VIC (Gender Equity Victoria), an organisation representing gender equity organisations across the State of Victoria .

The union has also encouraged its members to sign a petition that will be presented to key decision makers at major media employers.

France: The SNJ-CGT union has published on its website a call to participate in the major march against gender-based and sexual violence that will take place on 23 November in France. In Paris, the CGT group will meet from 1:30 pm at Opéra, under the balloon of the CGT Regional Union of Ile-de-France.

They have also published links to documents and tools on this topic on their website.

Italy: The Federazione Nazionale Stampa Italiana (FNSI) adopted the "Manifesto di Venezia" which provides guidelines to give correct information about violence against women.In order to evaluate the scale of online trolling among women journalists, 
 the FNSI conducted a first survey among women journalists about sexual harrassment, including online trolling. They also supported court cases involving women journalists subject to online trolling, and won these cases. FNSI also ran training for women journalists on how to handle online trolling and lobbied government to act against online trolling. 

On 26 November, the FNSI Gender Council will hold a meeting on “hate speech and Gender violence: women journalists targeted by haters", with testimonials from female colleagues subject to sexist online trolling together with the Minister of Equal Opportunities.

Japan: The Japan Federation of Newspaper workers' Unions, Shimbunroren, acted about the sexual assault and not only online harassment. They held a flower demonstration with Nagasaki residents on 18th November. This was the first time in Nagasaki prefecture. This flower demonstration was held in order to support the sexual assault survivors including our union members : in 2007 July, a Nagasaki-City official who has an executive position gave sexual assault to our member journalist who covered a story about the peace ceremony. It harmed her in an irreparable way and
she was exposed further abuse by scandalous gossip which is nothing but lies. Though she demanded an apology for Nagasaki-City but the Mayor refused to apologize. She then launched a legal action against Nagazaki-City, and the flower demonstration was held on the date for the second oral argument.

Kurdistan: The Kurdistan Journalists Syndicate  is conducting a research about online violence against women in Kurdistan and will present the research on 25 November in a University.

Norway: The Norvegian Union of Journalists drafted a guidelines that contain advices to media and journalists exposed to threats and violence.

Peru: Last year, the National Association of Journalists of Peru (ANP) devoted its 12th National Meeting of Women Journalists to the theme of CIBERACOSO. It brought together more than a hundred women journalists. The ANP also organised a training course on digital security for women journalists.

ANP has also formed alliances with civil society digital rights experts in Peru to help ANP manage online attack situations and help journalists deal with them, including finding legal solutions to stop cyber harassment.

The union has also legally supported female journalists who have been cyber harassed, but this action is very limited and the union is unable, for example, to remove the social network accounts from which insults, threats and hate speech against women journalists originate. For example, the ANP is trying to help Peruvian jungle journalist Glenda Mello Pinedo, who has been the victim of cyber harassment against her and her family for more than a year and a half. Very emotionally tired, she went to Lima to report the facts to the "Division de delitos de alta tecnologia", which replied that it could do nothing if the account from which it receives the attacks cannot be identified. The ANP then tried to mobilize several affiliates to denounce the account on Facebook but there are, so far, no results. 

Finally, the ANP participates in two activities: 

  • The national march "Juntas contra todas las violencias" (Together against all violence) to be held on Saturday, 23 November at the Palace of Justice in Lima.
  • Workshop: Inclusive language in communication, about the need for inclusive language in journalistic texts. This workshop will take place on Friday 29 November at the ANP offices. 

Sweden: The union SJF is part of an intiative with media employers for an online platform to fight against online harassment which provides useful tips and tools.

Syria: The Syrian Journalists Association conducted a survey in November 2019 on the exposure of Syrian women to harassment in social media. The questions focused on the type of harassment, the perpetrators of the harassment, and the actions taken to prevent online trolling. The Syrian Journalists Association then made suggestions to combat online harassment: awareness campaigns, training for women journalists, creation of a women journalists' advocacy group for legal aspects, submission of complaints to cybercrime units, creation of a platform to denounce the bully on social media.

Ukraine: The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) planned several events this past year abour cyber harassment of women journalists. They organised a side-event about online safety and online trolling.

The union also planned a psychological training for journalists during a media festival. During this training, over 150 journalists, of whom 80% were women, learned how to manage with stress including online attacks.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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