When it comes to harassment of women journalists, the online world is a reflection of the physical world. Not only do these women suffer the violence that journalists in general are faced with for their profession, the violence becomes multi-dimensional as these female journalists are also targeted for their gender. Threats of rape and death, sexual harassment, misogynist slurs and bullying are commonplace for female journalists who happen to have a voice in online spaces.
According to a global survey of female journalists, 78% of US-based women journalists indicated that gender was a contributing factor to their attacks and threats while 68% women journalists working in countries other than the US indicated that gender was the main factor in their attacks — both online and off.
Interviews conducted as part of research by the Digital Rights Foundation on the impact of online harassment on female journalists found that the problems faced by female journalists in Pakistan are very identical to those of female journalists across the world. There was a similar resonance in what these female journalists want to make things better.
We reproduce below the ordeal that Laiba Zainab, a journalist from Multan in Pakistan, shared with us about the different challenges and online violence and threats in her career trajectory as a female journalist: