In retaliation for an opinion piece, Europe 1 radio journalist Nadia Daam was sent pictures of beheadings and received threats to “rape her dead body” in 2017. Syrian reporter Yakeen Bido is among the few female journalists reporting from the field to have a presence on social media. “I get rape and death threats every day, aimed at me and my family,” said Bido.
Online attackers can be extremely sophisticated in their methods. They create fake social media accounts for their targets – as in the case of Indian journalist Rana Ayyubb, who was made to look like she supported child rapists. She was also a victim of ‘deepfake’ technology (often pornographic) where a person’s voice or image is doctored to appear as the attacker wants, “with devastating consequences” said the report.
Some 58% of respondents said that sexual violence occurs in the newsroom. What’s worse, this violence has long been tolerated as if it were simply part of the job, though recognition of it has played a major part in the advancement of the #MeToo movement. According to RSF, the biggest perpetrators are superiors (51%) and people in positions of power (50%) followed by colleagues (46%).
The goal of all these attacks is to dehumanise, destroy a reputation or elicit immense fear in a woman, so that she no longer has a voice. As a consequence of gender-based harassment and discrimination among women journalists, “The woman self-censors and prefers to avoid mentioning certain subjects,” reported nearly half the respondents.
In response to the report’s findings, RSF has made a series of recommendations for the media, governments, platforms, advertisers and women journalists.Print