IFJ and PNG media demand action after female journalists abducted and raped

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply outraged by the abduction of three female journalists in the capital of Papua New Guinea (PNG), Port Moresby, on Monday night. While one woman escaped, the two remaining women were raped in the shocking attack on October 13. The IFJ condemns this attack and joins the Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) in calling for swift and decisive action by the PNG Police and Government and demands PNG media companies act to immediately ensure the safety and security of female staff.

According to reports, a bus doing evening drop-offs for staff from the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) was taken over by a group of armed-men near a settlement area in Port Moresby on Monday evening. The bus driver and the male staff were ordered off the bus. The group then drove off with the bus with the three remaining female passengers. Police later found the abandoned bus with two of the female passengers still inside. The two women were hospitalised from their injuries, however the third had luckily escaped unharmed.

The PFF co-chair Titi Gabi said: “Pacific media colleagues condemn and denounce these attacks and call on police to act swiftly to bring those responsible to justice. The safety and security issues facing women journalists on the job, as well as getting to and from home, are a huge concern for women media workers in Papua New Guinea, where sexual and all other forms of violence are a major obstacle to their ability to do their jobs well.”

On Tuesday, NBC workers staged a stop work protests over long-standing pleas for security. Transport for workers is a key issue, but women journalists working night shifts are even more susceptible to sexual harassments. NBC management promised security escorts from Tuesday night, however they were criticised for their reactionary actions.

“We commend the staff for stepping up their call on their bosses, and NBC’s management for hearing the grievances of staff and quickly committing to support the three women as well as step up transport with private security for their bus routes. We especially commend the provision of counselling support for those affected,” Titi Gabi said.

PFF co-chair Monica Miller echoed the solidarity: “Our heart-felt thoughts are with our colleagues through their healing even as we are aware sexual assault against women is not uncommon across our societies as a whole. But our employers, our state, and all of us as individuals must do more to stop the culture of impunity when it comes to already-high levels of sexual violence against our Pacific sisters in Papua New Guinea."

The IFJ Asia Pacific acting director Jane Worthington said: “We are deeply saddened by the news of the abduction of three female journalists on their way home from work. The rape of two of these women clearly highlights the concerning and dangerous situation for women journalists working in PNG. This is a completely unacceptable situation.”

The IFJ and its affiliates across Asia-Pacific demand a “no tolerance” stance on sexual violence and harassment of female media workers.

“With more and more women entering the profession, we know too often women 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, or on the way home from work. The outcome is it is aimed at intimidating women journalists and removing them from the workforce. This situation must be remedied as an absolute priority by media companies in PNG.”

The IFJ calls on the PNG government and police to act quickly to arrest and punish the perpetrators, and send a clear message to society that these actions are not acceptable or tolerated.

“We offer our support and solidarity to our colleagues in Papua New Guinea and commend the support of their NBC colleagues is calling for stronger security and safety for journalists.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

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