August 12, 2020
A group of about thirty female journalists has issued a joint statement condemning the excruciating circumstances in which female journalists are forced to operate in Pakistan. The report claims that there is an ongoing systematic campaign to suppress the voices of female media workers critical of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party.
The report claims that online abuse is instigated by members of the ruling party and is then amplified by a large number of social media accounts associated with the PTI in what appears to be clearly coordinated campaigns.
Female journalists are targeted because of both their work and their gender. Critical posts are drowned under sexual slurs and baseless allegations. There have also been multiple reports of pictures and other personal information of female journalists being accessed and spread online, endangering their safety.
The current situation, instead of improving, has taken an even more sinister turn. Recently, there have been attempts to hack the accounts of several women in media. Such a noxious environment has forced many female journalists to censor their views online or, in other words, to forgo their constitutional right to free expression, which in turn adversely affects the citizenry’s democratic right to free information.
The statement demanded that the government should restraint its members from targeting women in media and hold accountable the worst offenders. The statement also calls upon the Standing Committees on Human rights to take notice of the situation.
Qurratulain (Annie) Zaman
and The International Coalition for Women in Journalism