— Urvashi Sarkar (@storyandworse) September 29, 2017
On September 29, people flocked to Twitter to discuss a pressing, yet largely ignored issue. The mental and physical threats to women in journalism.
Using the hashtag #ThreatsToWIJ, people from all over the world shared how there was a disproportionate amount of harassment and intimidation targeted at women reporters simply because of their gender. Led by the Coalition for Women Journalists, an hour long Twitter chat revealed the dark side of what these women go through.
Feminist media critic Soraya Chemaly had this to say:
Close to 2/3 of women journalists report work-related threats, sexist abuse, intimidation & harassment. #ThreatsToWIJ
— Still Too Female (@schemaly) September 29, 2017
Freelance journalist Neha Dixit also shared her experiences:
— Neha Dixit (@nehadixit123) September 29, 2017
And more and more joined the chat to share theirs:
— Priyanka Borpujari (@Pri_Borpujari) September 29, 2017
Being followed, rattling on the door, omnipresent leering, offers to drop you home. Elbows out every time you’re on your own. #ThreatstoWIJ
— Aruna Chandrasekhar (@aruna_sekhar) September 29, 2017
— Nandita Venkatesan (@nandita_venky) September 29, 2017
— Shanna F. Jones (@ShannaFelicia) September 29, 2017
Unfortunately, all of this has created several parallel threats to women journalists, which often diminish their career paths in ways that never happen to male counterparts:
Like me, many women reporters don’t talk abt #ThreatstoWIJ coz we’re worried of ridicule, being pulled off assignments, being seen as weak
— Rohini Mohan (@rohini_mohan) September 29, 2017
Keeping in mind #threatstoWIJ, many female journalists lose access to stories and spaces, especially in Pakistan.
— Nur Nasreen (@Nuri_ibrahim) September 29, 2017
“A woman journalist? Give her cultural/entertainment beat.” Change the mindset. #ThreatstoWIJ
— Tazeen Qureshy (@TazeenQureshy) September 29, 2017
More Dalit women, queer women, transwomen. Our newsrooms need to reflect the diversity of women’s’ experiences too. #threatstoWIJ
— Karthik Shankar (@kookykarthik) September 29, 2017
— amrita madhukalya (@visually_kei) September 29, 2017
And the huge gender pay gap in Indian newsrooms when they do hire young women is an other big issue never talked about #threatstoWIJ
— Apurva Vishwanath (@apurva_hv) September 29, 2017
A statement released by the Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) reads: “Especially after the recent murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru, it is imperative that neither the law enforcement officials nor the media community ignore such threats to journalists’ lives.”
Among its demands were that social media platforms be made safer for women, by detecting abuse in regional languages, and that the Editors’ Guild of India and Press Council of India take suo moto notice of such harassment.
Action must be swift and uncompromising. With folks finally talking about the problem, it’s expected that the journalist community will come together to find solutions.