Women journalists unite against digital abuse in Pakistan  

Shaheena Shaheen (Image credits: Twitter)

New Delhi (NVI): Female journalists in Pakistan are regularly subjected to gender-based threats and attacks that stifle their ability to commit to truthful and accurate reporting. These attacks range from “gender based and sexualized abuse, discrediting, targeting and persecution”.

In order to address these issues, more than 150 Pakistani women journalists released a statement detailing the gender-based attacks that are increasingly impacting their safety and ability to work.

The statement titled ‘Together Against Digital Abuse’, also puts forward a list of demands to Pakistan’s ruling political party to set the region on a path of justice for female journalists.

In this regard, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) stands with the female media workers of Pakistan and urges its government to take the lead on initiating meaningful change.

The attacks on women often emerge in full force when a female journalist reports on an issue that is critical of any political party and have resulted in abusive and defaming campaigns.

The statement comes after the murder of female journalist Shaheena Shaheen, who was the second victim of gender-based killings of female journalists in Pakistan in 10 months with Urooj Iqbal also being murdered by her husband earlier this year.

So severe and prevalent is the abuse that women in the media “refrain from sharing information”, and “giving opinion or actively engaging online,” the statement said.

This is a culture of self-censorship that is rife among Pakistan’s female journalists and is an obstruction of the public’s right to information and the journalists’ right to free speech. The group of journalist also listed a few demands to the government and all political parties for concrete codes of conduct for the social media teams of political parties, investigations into authorities and officials for whom there is evidence of abuse, and a new commitment against digital violence from Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency

The PFUJ Secretary General, Rana Muhammad Azeem said, The PFUJ strongly believes in gender equality and freedom of speech and expression. Therefore, the PFUJ urges the government and media organizations to create an environment that is conducive to female journalists working without fear of possible backlash just because of their gender.”

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) also stated, “No journalist should have to fear a backlash for truthful reporting solely because they are female. Pakistan is gravely limiting its press freedom and ability to provide accurate information by not acting in the protection of its women journalists. The IFJ stands with these women and echoes the need for clear codes of conduct for public institutions that act in the best interest of women in the media industry.”

-CHK