International Federation of Journalists monitors harassment of female journalist

Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Director. Photo : RPU

Johannesbourg, South Africa (ADV) – The International Federation of Journalists has launched a programme aimed at monitoring online harassment against women journalists titled “Online Harassment in the Media”.

IFJ said the survey is anonymous and all answers provided will be kept confidential and the survey´s results will be released on 23rd November, ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls (25th November).

A Hostile Environment for Women

Writing in Michigan Law Review, Danielle Keats Citron, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, analyzed the connection between gender and online harassment, saying, “cyber gender harassment has a set of core features: (1) its victims are female, (2) the harassment is aimed at particular women, and (3) the abuse invokes the targeted individual’s gender in sexually threatening and degrading ways.”

A 2017 report by the Pew Research Center found that 41 percent of Americans had experienced some type of online harassment. But the report found major differences in the experiences of online harassment between men and women. Women were twice as likely as men to say they have been targeted as a result their gender.

Women also encountered sexualized online harassment at a much higher rate than men. The report found 21 percent of women ages 18 to 29 reported online sexual harassment, compared to nine percent of men.

Half of women in that age group reported being sent sexually explicit images they did not ask for. Furthermore, 35 percent of women described online harassment they faced as either extremely or very upsetting. In contrast, only 16 percent of men described the online harassment they faced as such.

In addition, men and women sharply differ in their attitudes toward the importance of online harassment as an issue.

Women were much more likely than men to say “people should be able to feel welcome and safe and online spaces.” Men were much more likely than women to say that people should be able to speak freely online. Seventy percent of women view online harassment as a major problem, while only 54 percent of men do.

A major effect of gendered online harassment is “entrenching gender hierarchy in cyberspace” and to “reinforce gendered stereotypes, casting men as dominant in the bedroom and the workplace and women as subservient sexual objects who are not fit to work online,” Keats Citron wrote.

A 2016 report by the Rad Campaign found similar results. According to the survey, 17 percent of respondents had experienced sexist harassment. Women were four times as likely as men to report experiencing sexist online harassment. In an earlier report from 2014, 44 percent of people reported to experience sexual online harassment.

The report also found that Facebook was overwhelmingly the most common form for online harassment. Sixty-three percent of respondents reported to being harassed on Facebook.

Online harassment on email and Twitter were the second and third most common platforms for experiencing harassment. Even among daily twitter users, the vast majority reported to being harassed on Facebook.

Of the respondents that reported online harassment, six in 10 knew the perpetrator. Of respondents that reported harassment on Facebook, 70 percent knew the perpetrator.

Online harassment of women functions as one of many major obstacles to the equal and free participation of women in society.

The Global Fund for Women recently wrote, “We recognize that online violence is a symptom of deep-seated gender inequality, and just one more way that women and girls are denied their human rights.”

“An Attack on Women for Being Women”: Impacts of Online Harassment

Online harassment of journalists, particularly women in journalism present an assortment of problems. Online harassment presents a threat to the participation of women in journalism.

According to Elisa Lees Munoz, the executive director of the International Women’s Media Foundation women choose to exit journalism and media because of the gendered, personal and often violent nature of digital harassment targeted against them and female journalists in general.

© Bur-csa – A.H – N.A / From our regional correspondent Mkhululi Chimoio – African Daily Voice (ADV)