harassment · media · violence

Female journalists threatened on the job: report

If you’re a woman, you’ve worried about being stranded or stuck somewhere where your safety is at risk. What if it was your job to venture into the world’s most dangerous areas?

Check out my interview with International News Safety Institute (INSI) director Hannah Storm on new research on abuse and harassment female media workers experience at work across the world.

Report raises concerns for safety of female media workers

Members of Assam Photojournalists Association stage a silent protest in front of Guwahati Press Club. Credit: TwoCircles.Net via Flickr.
Members of India’s Assam Photojournalists Association stage a silent protest in front of Guwahati Press Club on Saturday after the gang-rape of a female photojournalist in Mumbai. Credit: TwoCircles via Flickr.

More than two-thirds of female media workers have experienced abuse and harassment at work, according to new research.

The survey conducted by the International News Safety Institute (INSI) and International Women’s Media Foundation found half of female media workers polled experienced sexual harassment at work or in the field.

INSI director Hannah Storm says the research was fuelled partly by the attack on American journalist Lara Logan in Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the 2011 Arab Spring.

The attack sparked a debate on the safety of female foreign correspondents and protesters in the Egyptian capital.

AUDIO: Hannah Storm speaks to Radio Australia’s Sarah Malik. (ABC News)

“Almost two thirds of women journalists have experienced abuse and harassment and that’s quite a staggering figure when you think about it ,” Ms Storm told Radio Australia.

“In some ways I’m incredibly surprised. In some ways it’s just a sad confirmation of what we’ve known for a long time.”

Almost two thirds of women journalists have experienced abuse and harassment and that’s quite a staggering figure when you think about it.

The harassment included verbal or physical intimidation, threats or abuse.

Almost 46 per cent of respondents had experienced sexual harassment at work, with 13 per cent admitting experiencing sexual violence.

The research found almost 60 per cent of sexual harassment happened in the office with 49 per cent occurring in the field.

Ms Storm said the nature of the harassment made female reporters, photojournalists and other media workers reluctant to report violence.

“One of the other reasons women don’t report it is, where it doesn’t happen in the office, one of the other main sets of perpetrators were government officials, authorities, police,” she said.

“So you’re going to have almost entire impunity if it were reported because the very people you report it to are committing this crime.”

The research found that over half of women who had experienced intimidation, threats or abuse suffered a negative psychological impact.

“First of all you’re treated to some horrible experience. You face something which nobody should have to face,” Ms Storm said.

“Then you face a situation where the very people you are supposed to rely on, those people you are supposed to trust are the perpetrators.”

Ms Storm said high-profile cases including Lara Logan and an attack on an Indian photojournalist in Mumbai earlier this year has brought awareness to the issue.

“In my mind if you make it more public and put it more out there…the more people are going to come forward…but equally there is more of an ability to do something about it,” she said.

Ms Storm said the research will spur lobbying for greater safety training, policy changes, counselling and mentoring to support female journalists.

“It’s about providing an enabling and encouraging atmosphere where they can articulate their desires to be more safe, to articulate their desire to be treated equally,” she said.

“They don’t feel like they’re banging a doorway where nobody is in the room.”

The survey conducted between July and November this year polled 958 media workers across the globe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s