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Almost two-thirds of women journalists have experienced abuse and harassment - INSI/IWMF global survey

Source: International News Safety Institute - Mon, 2 Dec 2013 02:52 PM
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Almost two-thirds of women journalists have experienced intimidation, threats or abuse in relation to their work, according to the findings of the first global survey into violence and threats against women working in the news media.

The survey by the International News Safety Institute and the International Women’s Media Foundation was released to coincide with the UN’s Global Forum on Media and Gender.

It found that the majority of those threats, intimidation and abuse directed towards female media workers occurred in the work place and were committed by male bosses, supervisors and co-workers.

The survey also found that the majority of women who are harassed do not report what has happened to them, despite the fact that more than half of them confirmed that the experience had a psychological impact on them.

“When we talk about safety for the media, we often think in terms of staying safe in war zones, civil unrest and environmental disasters, but how often do we think of the office as a hostile environment?”, said INSI Director Hannah Storm.

“What this ground-breaking survey shows is that women journalists are often at risk in their own work places as well: targeted by their colleagues, and because they are let down by the very people they should be able to trust, the violence and harassment they face goes widely unreported and therefore unpunished.”

“It is shocking to see that more than half (64.48%) of the 822 women journalists who responded to our survey have experienced some sort of ‘intimidation, threat or abuse’ in relation to their work”, said Elisa Lees Munoz, Executive Director of the IWMF.

“With around 20% of respondents experiencing physical abuse as well as digital surveillance and attacks, the results are a clear indicator of where we need to put our attention in order to provide assistance to those confronting these attacks as well as to develop strategies to mitigate them.”

In addition, 105 women said they had experienced physical violence in relation to their work, with almost 60 percent saying it happened in the ‘field’ and almost 40 percent saying it occurred in the street. Most of the perpetrators were men.

Almost a half of the 605 women who responded to a question asking if they’d ever experienced sexual harassment in relation to their work said they had, and they said colleagues accounted for almost 50 percent of the perpetrators.

Almost 500 women responded to the question asking if they had experienced sexual violence in their work and 63 (or 13.02 percent) of them said they had.

In the light of recent high profile incidents in the media, the survey asked respondents if they had ever been the victim of telephone tapping, hacking or digital security threats.

Almost a quarter of those who answered the question said they had been victims of phone-tapping, just slightly higher than the number who had been hacked and/or subjected to digital or online surveillance.

The survey attracted 875 female respondents, with 251 from Asia and the Pacific, 189 from North America, 172 from Europe, 111 from Africa, 98 from Latin/South America and 15 from the Commonwealth of Independent States.

More than one third of the women were aged between 25 and 34, although their ages ranged from 18 to 75 years of age or older. More than 80 percent described themselves as journalists or reporters, although photographers, camera or sound people, presenters, media support workers, bloggers, columnists, trainers, and researchers were also represented. Almost half worked in newspapers and just over half classed themselves as employees not freelance.

The survey concluded by asking respondents if their organisations provided any kind of resources or training for them to deal with possible harassment or violence and any kind of emotional support or counselling. The overriding majority said they did not, though many women offered practical suggestions as to ways their employers could better support them in these areas.

These details and further information, including case studies and analysis, will be released to coincide with International Women’s Day in March 2014, at which point INSI and the IWMF will also provide a series of recommendations aimed at improving the safety and security situation for women journalists around the world based on the findings of this research.

The survey, which was carried out with funding from the Government of Austria and supported by UNESCO, remains a live document and can be accessed here

The full results of the survey can be accessed here (PDF) or here (link)

Contact: Hannah Storm, Director INSI

Email: 447766 814274

Contact: Elisa Lees Munoz or Alana Barton, IWMF

Email: or

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