Women journalists face special dangers while doing their jobs, an independent UN expert told the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday, adding that governments should do more to protect them.
In an appeal to member states, Dubravka Simonovic, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, said that action was needed now, to combat an “emerging fundamentalist discourse” and a “global backlash against women’s rights”.
She also called on governments to keep women journalists safe by “fully implementing human rights instruments that are specifically aimed at eliminating discrimination against women and gender-based violence”.
Since 1992, 96 women journalists have been killed while doing their jobs. More male journalists die every year but women journalists face “sexual assault and rape, and particularly the threat of rape, which is used as a tool to undermine their credibility and discourage them from working in the media,” she said.
Popular movements around the world – such as #MeToo and #NiUnaMenos – have highlighted sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence and have provided a platform for women journalists to speak up against abuse. However, many are still reluctant to do so, the report says.
The expansion of the Internet and digital platforms is a double-edged sword for women. New social digital spaces are transforming and reshaping society, but also enabling new forms of online violence against women.
“Women journalists have become increasingly targeted as visible and outspoken representatives of women’s rights. Journalists face even higher levels of discrimination if they are not only women, but also indigenous, from a minority, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex,” said Šimonović.
“In view of the alarming increases in gender-based violence against women around the world, including women journalists, during the COVID-19 pandemic, I renew my call to all countries to support the elaboration of a UN system wide coordinated approach or strategy to combat and prevent violence against women and a global implementation plan on violence against women,” Šimonović said.
“Women have a right to be safe in their own homes. Any measures to combat the pandemic must respect human rights and take into account the needs of women in line with the UN Secretary-General’s appeal for ‘Peace at home’,” Šimonović ended.
Šimonović also presented two country visit reports on Bulgaria and Ecuador. (Source: OHCHR)