In the first four months of 2021, the Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) documented a total of 348 cases of violence and threats against women journalists around the world.
In the MENA region, this was an increase of 284.8% compared to the same period during the previous year. This makes MENA the most dangerous region in the world for female journalists with 36.5% or 127 cases reported.
As of the start of May, at least 48 women journalists are behind bars. Iran leads the way in terms of the most, followed by China, Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
Sadly, seven women have killed during the period the report covers. They lost their lives in Afghanistan, Cameroon, Algeria, and the US. Lynn Murray was killed during the Colorado shooting on March 22, Tin Hinan Laceb was murdered by her husband in Algeria, Rebecca Jeme Iyabo was killed when a bomb hit her convoy in Cameroon, Aviva Okeson Haberman was shot through her apartment window in the US, and three women were shot in broad daylight in Afghanistan, just for being female and journalists.
In terms of overall reports, Turkey, India, and the United States have the highest amount of incidents during the first four months of the year.
The most common forms of attack on women media workers were legal harassment, followed by detention, organized troll and smear campaigns, and being attacked in the field. Other common threats faced included workplace harassment, threats of violence, sexual harassment, and physical assault.
Albania made the report following an incident in February whereby the Director of ALPO RTV in Gjirokaster sexually harassed a female employee in the workplace. A video taken seemingly without his knowledge, showed him touching her inappropriately. The man, Aristotel Petro admitted it was him in the video but said he didn’t sexually harass her as it was a “trap”.
They also referenced the Albanian Helsinki Committee report that noted concerns over sexual abuse, harassment, and discrimination of female journalists in the country. It highlighted that women do not report cases for fear of being blacklisted in the Albanian media sector.
The CFWIJ said that the first four months of 2021 saw a rise in sociopolitical tensions around the world.
“Right-wing governments used repressive tactics; whether it was legal harassment in Turkey or online violence in Pakistan, the goal was to intimidate women journalists into silence. It is crucial to understand how attacks on the press can affect civil liberties and freedom of expression. Journalists are a fundamental tool to keeping societies engaged and informed, and the principles of press freedom must be preserved.”
Despite this, the report notes, women journalists persisted against all odds. “The more violent the tyranny, the more determined the drive to hold it accountable”, they added.
“In times like these, unbiased voices are needed to report the truth— like the women journalists featured in our report. A safer future can only be assured by fighting against the present threats,” they concluded.