NEW DELHI, 25 Nov: To mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Friday, the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) called upon the Modi government to ratify ILO Convention 190 on harassment and violence in the world of work.
It also urged its state affiliates to impress upon media houses to prioritise tacking online abuse of women journalists, which is growing menacingly.
According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), of which IJU is an affiliate, over 60 percent of women journalists have faced online abuse during their career.
“The online abuse targets women from all political, religious and ethnic backgrounds. The attacks are gendered, sexualised and not only aimed at intimidating and silencing women in the media, but their chilling effects contribute to killing stories and depriving the public of information, thereby undermining pluralism and the right to access information,” the IJU stated in a release, and urged its state affiliates to join the IFJ campaign titled ‘Online abuse: We need to talk’.
In a UNESCO International Centre for Journalists research, ‘The Chilling: A Global Study of Online Violence against Women Journalists’, women participants said they were subjected to a wide range of online violence, including threats of sexual assault, physical violence, abusive language, harassing private messages, threats to damage professional or personal reputations, digital security attacks, misrepresentation via manipulated images, and financial threats.
In a statement, IJU President Geetartha Pathak and Secretary-General Sabina Inderjit said, “India being the world’s largest democracy mustn’t sit in silence and should ratify the ILO convention at the earliest.”
They said that women journalists in the country are facing the worst online harassment, and that trolling has increased manifold “in a bid to silence women who dare to speak out and have an opinion.”
“There is much to be desired from the cyber police, and employers too must protect their staff,” they said.
The IJU urged its states’ gender councils to “adopt various tools available and engage in setting up of workplace procedures, training on digital security or lobbying online platforms for enhanced notice and take down measures.”
“Women journalists should be encouraged to report the attacks as, regrettably, there is lack of support from newsrooms and media colleagues,” it said.