Online abuse of female journalists poses a serious threat to press freedom, according to recent global research, and has resulted in the murder of numerous female journalists globally. Over 1,000 female journalists from 15 different countries responded to the study conducted by the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) and the University of Sheffield, which was the basis for the report.
The majority of the journalists who participated in the interview stated that they encountered online harassment and threats at some point in their journalistic careers. According to the study, approximately 75 percent of professional women worldwide have experienced online harassment and violence.
25% of those surveyed reported receiving threats of physical violence that eventually turned into threats of death. 18% of people reported receiving threats of sexual violence, and 48% reported being harassed by strangers who slipped in private social media communications.
The report called out the “victim-blaming and slut-shaming that perpetuates sexist and misogynistic responses to offline violence against women in the online environment, where patriarchal norms are being aggressively reinforced.”
“Our report has found that we are now at a crisis point in the level of violence being directed towards women journalists,” said Prof Kalina Bontcheva, a senior researcher associated with the study.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized earlier this month that a “free press” is essential for democracy, exposing wrongdoing, and accomplishing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Yet, more than 70 journalists have been killed this year simply for fulfilling this role in society. Most of these crimes go unsolved. Meanwhile, a record number of journalists are incarcerated today, while threats of imprisonment, violence, and death keep growing,” the UN chief said in a message.
The paper intends to raise awareness about the harsh and more frequent attacks on female journalists that take place on online forums. In order to make their platforms a secure place for female journalists, it calls on the main digital companies to change their algorithms.
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