Proactivity and collaboration to prevent hate and threats

26 April, 2018
Hana Al-Khamri, Katya Gorchinskaja, Hanna Andersson, Sheila Masinde and Kathryn Raymundo.


Women journalists are being increasingly targeted by hate and harassments (often related to their sex). To tackle the situation there is an urgent need for more global data, cooperation between different stakeholders and tailored support systems. This was the message from an international panel, hosted by Fojo Media Institute, at the Stockholm Gender Forum.

– It is important to be proactive, to find collaborative and creative ways of counteracting hate and harassments, says Fojo Gender advisor Agneta Söderberg Jacobson.

Four international guests were invited to speak on the seminar about how their careers and lives as women journalists are affected by hate and harassments in societies where journalism in general isn’t very appreciated by everyone.

Hana Al-Khamri, a writer and commentator on women’s rights issues and the political development in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, spoke about how she for five years worked as a journalist for a local newspaper – without meeting her boss face to face even once.

– In Saudi Arabia, women and men aren’t allowed to be in the same room. They had separate offices and she was denied interviews because she was a woman, says Agneta Söderberg Jacobson.

Working conditions in many countries are affected by the nation’s leaders and the change in atmosphere is fast. Kathryn Raymundo from Southeast Asian Press Alliance in Thailand described how things changed swiftly in the Philippines as Rodrigo Duterte took office with an outspoken hostility towards media in general. The attitude is widely recognized in the United States where president Trump is constantly attacking the media industry and this kind of behavior quickly spreads throughout the society all the way down to the man on the street.

– The hate and harassment induces self-censorship amongst the female journalists. When they get attacked, the harassments are more often sexualized and targeted towards their families. So they stop reporting on certain events and matters and in some cases they leave the profession, says Söderberg Jacobson.

Sheila Masinde, Head of Programmes at Transparency International Kenya and Katya Gorchinskaja, CEO of women-led Hromadske Television in Ukraine, both gave examples of how harassments towards women journalists have increased, especially digitally. Hanna Andersson of Fojo Media Institute is managing a project funded by the Swedish government to educate, support and advice Swedish journalists who suffer from hate speech and threats in their daily work.

– Obviously, the situation in Sweden isn’t really comparable with situations in for example Mexico, Pakistan or Ukraine, but it’s important that Sweden takes part in these conversations, because we have tendencies towards more hate speech and threats. It’s impossible to predict what’s coming in the future and we need to prevent and be pro-active by making sure to spread general knowledge about safety and security among all journalists, says Hanna Andersson.

The seminar at Stockholm Forum on Gender Equality was a part of a pilot study in which Fojo with Swedish Institute of International Affairs aims to see how an international digital support centre for threatened women journalists could be arranged globally.

– There’s not much help for anyone today. We need systematic safety and security training for women and we must work hard to find ways to prevent and pro-act. We’re hoping that Sweden can take an important role in this, says Agneta Söderberg Jacobson.


 Photo: Simon Stanford

Related topics

Gender, Security

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