4 February 2023
By Munizae Jahangir
When you first meet the prominent Pakistani journalist and activist Gharidah Farooqi, her confident demeanor does a good job of hiding the years-long cyber violence that she has had to endure.
She is not new to online harassment, having faced ongoing cyber violence, including misinformation, online trolling, and defamatory campaigns. Farooqi, who works as a broadcast journalist and news show host, is a vocal feminist, and perhaps consequently has been the target of such attacks primarily from supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and other right-wing elements.
The abuse directed towards Farooqi has often taken the form of deeply gendered language and aims to insult and undermine her credibility as a female journalist and public figure. In one of the worst cases, a hashtag using a derogatory term was deliberately trended on Pakistani social media.
Farooqi is just one of many female public figures facing digital violence in Pakistan. According to the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, the weaponization of digital spaces against female journalists has been on the rise.
Despite the years of abuse, Farooqi remains unwavering and continues to use social media to voice her opinions and fight for media freedom and women’s rights. National and international organizations for press freedom and women’s rights have condemned the cyber harassment against her, as well as the lack of action from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in apprehending the culprits.
Farooqi has filed multiple complaints with the FIA, including against a former state minister, but has received no response. Throughout the years, she has faced a timeline of digital abuse, including false claims about her marital status, vicious campaigns calling for her abduction, rape, and murder, and harassment for her reporting and opinions. Despite reaching out to the FIA and government leaders for security, her requests have gone unanswered.