Samoa: Caretaker Prime Minister instigates sexist attack on female journalists

Prior to the start of a televised interview session by TV3 and Radio Polynesia Reporter, Rula Su’a Vaai, Samoa’s caretaker Prime Minister instructed her to ask him about the sexist allegations against another politician. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the National Media Association of Samoa (JAWS) condemn this gendered power play by the caretaker Prime Minister and urges the government to allow women journalists to work in a safe space.

Samoa’s caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi. Credit: @Samoagovt / Twitter

The interview by Vaai was used by the Caretaker Prime Minister to attack the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T) party Chairman and accuse him or advocating sexual violence against women.

Samoan women journalists have been belittled, humiliated and shamed by the Caretaker Prime Minister during Samoa’s political crisis. Attacks on the credibility of women journalists and the active efforts to diminish the role that they play in informing the public are not acceptable.

“Samoan women journalists have been attacked on a daily basis online for reporting on the political crisis. Those in power must refrain from attacking the messenger. Women journalists should not be used in party politics, they should feel safe in the performance of their duties … Women in Samoa have faced numerous attacks since the beginning of the political crisis. These incidents include verbal attacks form the Caretake PM, verbal attacks from Caretaker Miniters and slut-shaming of women journalists by members of the public on Facebook,” said Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson, Samoan Alliance of the Media Practitioners for Development (SAMPOD)

Resolution 33/2 from the 2016 Human Rights Council, which unequivocally condemns the specific attacks on women journalists in the exercise of their work, including sexual and gender-based discrimination and violence, intimidation and harassment, online and offline, must be considered by politicians and all media practitioners.

JAWS said: “JAWS stand strong in support of Samoan women journalists and condemn any form of attack on them. The recent attacks on them by the people in the forthrun of empowering women and the caretaker PM threatens the role of free press and democracy.”

The IFJ said: “Women should not be made pawns for the political games of government officials. Female journalists must be respected in their fields so as to uphold inherent human rights and to pursue greater press freedom. The IFJ supports the female journalists of Samoa and urges political figures, like the caretaker Prime Minister, to not use them for political gain.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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