26 September 2023

Call for female journalists to work in safety

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The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne has used World Press Freedom Day to join with colleagues in other countries in a call for enhanced safety for women journalists and media workers.

Senator Payne, who is also Minister for Women, said female journalists were disproportionately impacted by threats and attacks, which are more often gendered and sexualized than threats against their male counterparts.

“Many women journalists face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and sexual and gender-based violence, including on the basis of other characteristics, including race, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” Senator Payne said.

She said a United Nations study showed that almost 75 per cent of women journalists worldwide had experienced online violence.

“Social media is a critical avenue for journalists and media organisations to engage their audiences, but it is also a vector of online harm,” Senator Payne said.

“Furthermore, the escalation of technology-facilitated gender-based violence is of urgent concern and forms a serious threat to an inclusive and diverse media landscape. It is a risk to media pluralism and democracy.”

She said online threats to women journalists and media workers could lead to self-censorship and disengagement from the digital public square, undermining their ability to exercise their human rights and enjoy freedom of expression, compounding the forms of violence they faced offline.

“All people — including women — should be able to speak out without fear of harassment, discrimination or violence,” the Minister said.

“There is also in many places a culture of impunity surrounding online attacks on women journalists and media workers, which perpetuates the cycle of gender-based violence.”

Senator Payne joined with colleagues from Denmark, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States in denouncing all forms of violence against women journalists and media workers, both online and offline, and defending their ability to practice journalism freely and safely.

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