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Female Scribes face Patriarchy and Misogyny in India, say Women Journalists

"We want to be judged on the basis of our work, stories not just on the basis of being female reporters," Barkha Dutt

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Gender Equality (representational Image). Pixabay

October 6, 2016: Women journalists, like men, should be judged on the basis of their stories rather than their gender in the male-dominated world of journalism where they face “misogyny and patriarchy” on daily basis, renowned Indian scribes said here on Thursday.

“We want to be judged on the basis of our work, stories not just on the basis of being female reporters,” Barkha Dutt, consulting editor of NDTV, said here at a discussion on “The female journalist in India”.

Barkha Dutt, Wikimedia
Barkha Dutt, Wikimedia

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Veteran journalists, including Suhasini Haider of The Hindu and Harinder Baweja of Hindustan Times, were also part of the discussion at the American Center to commemorate the life and work of American-Israeli Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and later killed by militants in Pakistan.

The women journalists spoke about their lives as young reporters, covering conflicts and facing harassment and being the target of humiliating and hateful tweets but still standing out in the male-dominated profession.

“I stayed quiet as a younger person when I was harassed during work. Because, I did not want to lose the story,” said Dutt, who shot to fame after her live coverage of the 1999 Kargil conflict between India and Pakistan.

Harinder Baweja, Twitter
Harinder Baweja, Twitter

“I had to argue with the army for allowing me to go to Kargil during the war and their reason for not letting me go was there are no bathrooms,” she said.

“I told them, I would go the way men out there would do.”

Baweja, known for her investigative reporting, echoed the lines. “As a female, we all have faced difficulties. But to all young reporters, I would advise to have a thicker skin and move on. Although things now are changing.”

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Speaking to journalists, students and diplomats, the panellists highlighted the social media abuse that women journalists go through.

“This is where it is different with men. Male journalists do not undergo sexual abuse online whereas we all face it every day,” Baweja said.

They said “misogyny, institutional patriarchy, and fictionalising of personal lives” by the society was not what their male counterparts would face.

US envoy Richard Verma and Israel’s envoy Daniel Carmon were also present at the event.(IANS)

 

  • Enakshi Roy Chowdhury

    Female journalists should get the same kind of behaviour and feel equally safe as their male collegues

  • Aakash Mandyal

    Time has come where all this gender discrimination will not work. We are living in a that country whose x-president was female. Need to change our vision then only we can grow.

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Female Journalists Face Online, Workplace Harassment

At a recent Global Conference for Media Freedom in London, a panel discussed some of those threats and why it's important to find solutions

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female journalists, harassment
A screen at the Global Conference for Media Freedom shows tweets by female journalists about the dangers they face on the job. VOA

The number of journalists killed in 2018 because of their work nearly doubled compared to 2017, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. In all, 88 journalists and media workers died on the job, because they were targeted for their reporting or were working in hazardous environments.

Female journalists face the same dangers as their male counterparts when working on an assignment; but, women journalists face other threats that don’t affect men to nearly the same degree.

At a recent Global Conference for Media Freedom in London, a panel discussed some of those threats and why it’s important to find solutions.

Nadine Hoffman, deputy director of the International Women’s Media Foundation, said that in a survey of 600 female journalists last year, more than two-thirds said they had experienced online harassment. She said those attacks are often sexual and misogynistic in nature.

“If you’re a woman and you assert yourself in the online space, men will attack you,” Hoffman said, noting that female politicians often experience the same kind of harassment.

female journalists
FILE – Lebanese protesters carry posters of prominent anti-Syrian news anchor May Chidiac, who was seriously wounded by a car bomb, during a sit-in at Martyrs square in Beirut, Sept. 26, 2005. VOA

‘There must be laws’

May Chidiac, the Lebanese minister of state for administrative development, survived a 2005 car bombing while she worked as a television journalist. The assassination attempt was part of a series of bombings targeting journalists and politicians who were critical of Syria.

Chidiac said that online harassment is a serious threat to women. She said more must be done to protect journalists targeted by those attacks and to prosecute the perpetrators.

“Personally, I never considered myself different from a male journalist,” she said. “But when it comes to online harassment, believe me, there is a big difference between men and women.”

She said in addition to sending vulgar material and comments, critics sometimes publicly post personal details, like a woman’s address or telephone number — an attack called “doxing” — putting her personal safety at risk.

“These are things that must not go unpunished,” she said. “There must be laws to, in one way or another, protect women from such aggression and harassment.”

harassment, female journalists
Hoffman said that it’s important to not dismiss such harassment as a workplace or human resources issue. Instead, she said it must be treated as a safety issue. Wikimedia Commons

Harassment by colleagues

Hoffman noted that one-third of the 2018 survey respondents said they considered leaving their newsroom because of such harassment. She added that another threat to women comes from within newsrooms: sexual harassment by colleagues.

Hoffman said that it’s important to not dismiss such harassment as a workplace or human resources issue. Instead, she said it must be treated as a safety issue.

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Hoffman said these threats are not taken as seriously as the dangers of reporting from hazardous locations or being targeted because of coverage of an organization or issue. But she warned that if these issues are not addressed, the impact goes beyond the individuals who leave the industry out of frustration or concern for their safety.

“Sexual harassment is a safety issue,” she said. “Online harassment does have offline implications,” she added. “Without women’s voices, we cannot have truly democratic societies and a free press.” (VOA)