Report raises concerns for safety of female media workers
More than two-thirds of female media workers have experienced abuse and harassment at work.
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.
“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’s Asia Pacific.
“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.International News Safety Institute director Hannah Storm
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 Indian photojournalist gang-raped 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.