Since 1992, 96 women journalists have been killed for doing their jobs. Dubravka Simonovic, United Nations special rapporteur on violence against women, is now urging the world to protect women in media.
Simonovic highlighted the increasing threat against women journalists in an appeal to the UN member states on Wednesday. She argued the attack on women journalists is a part of the global backlash against women’s rights and called on countries to end gender-based violence and discrimination against women. Women are especially at risk of abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic, she pointed out.
“Women have a right to be safe in their own homes,” Simonovic said. “Any measures to combat the pandemic must respect human rights and take into account the needs of women in line with the UN secretary-general’s appeal for ‘peace at home.’”
While more male journalists have died in the past few decades, women are more likely to be experienced gender-based violence such as sexual assault, rape, and rape threats, Simonovic said. Women journalists are disproportionately targeted by online harassment and women journalists from marginalized communities experience higher levels of discrimination.
Simonovic referenced one 2019 study that was conducted in dozens of newsrooms across five countries and found that women and journalists who were of color, Indigenous, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or intersex, were more likely to be targeted online with malicious and highly sexualized threats. Another survey by the Guardian Media Group found that among millions of comments, 8 out of 10 of the most abused writers were women, she said.
🔴Women journalists are threatened daily for their choice of work and their gender!— Journalism Initiative on Gender-based Violence (@gbvjournalism) July 8, 2020
➡️The Report on combating violence against #womenjournalists by @DubravkaSRVAW was presented to @UNHumanRights today in Geneva.
🚨Read it here https://t.co/FSWKRcmMVYpic.twitter.com/v8hpowY5u9
Many women journalists are still afraid to speak up against abuse, despite growing international movements like #MeToo that empowered survivors to come forward about sexual assault. And journalism isn’t the only industry plagued by sexism and discrimination –– millions of women are vulnerable to gender-based violence in the workplace across all professions.
Simonovic stressed the importance of countries supporting the UN’s efforts to end and prevent gender-based violence by implementing a global plan to address the issue.