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Call for submissions: Violence against women journalists

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences Ms. Dubravka Šimonović, has identified the issue of violence against women journalists as the subject of her next thematic report to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2020.

Over the last decade, gender based violence against women journalists has been increasing and continues to form part of the daily routine of women journalists and media workers, who are subjected to intimidation, threats of rape, threats against family, and sexual harassment in the newsroom and in the field. They also are threatened for the type of stories they cover. While the digital era has created new opportunities for women journalists, it has also provided a platform for new forms of online violence including cyberstalking, defamation campaigns, “doxing”, “sextortion” and “trolling”, as well as the non-consensual distribution of intimate content (or “revenge porn”).

In September 2016, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) unanimously adopted Resolution 33/2 on the safety of journalists.  This was succeeded in 2017 by the adoption of UN General Assembly Resolution 72/175, on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. While the UN has highlighted the rights of journalists through its various mechanisms, there has been limited focus on the specific threats faced by women journalists.

In her forthcoming report, the Special Rapporteur aims to build on the existing human rights standards and to offer a more holistic approach to addressing the specific challenges faced by women journalists, as well as their causes, and to provide recommendations to States and other stakeholders on how to tackle these issues.  The report will also build on the Special Rapporteur’s previous report to the Human Rights Council in 2018, on online violence against women (A/HRC/38/47).  As such, the report seeks to lay the foundation for States to establish an appropriate human rights framework including through the development of policies or strategies to ensure the protection of women journalists. 

In this regard, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women wishes to seek the views of States, National Human Rights Institutions, the media, journalists, civil society and academia on the following questions:

  1. Please indicate whether there are cases of gender based violence and harassment against women journalists in your country. If so, please specify how these cases are documented, and describe the State response, or lack thereof, to such cases, including examples of good practice.
  2. Please indicate whether your country has early-warning and rapid-response systems in place, such as hotlines, online platforms or 24-hour emergency contact points to ensure that journalists and other media actors have immediate access to protective measures when they are under threat.
  3. Please specify whether there are any programs in place aimed at addressing factors that increase the likelihood of violence and harassment in the world of work for women journalists, including discrimination, the abuse of power relations, and gender, cultural and social norms that support violence and harassment.
  4. Please specify whether online and ICT-facilitated violence against women is recognized as a crime, particularly cases of killings, threats of rape and harassment of women journalists.
  5. Please indicate whether transparent complaint mechanisms for cases of offline and online and ICT-facilitated violence against women journalists have been adopted, and if so, whether policies and procedures for reporting and requesting the removal of harmful content are available and easily accessible.
  6. Please indicate what challenges are faced by women journalists when reporting on cases of gender based violence, and specify whether there are any good practices in this regard.

All submissions should be sent to vaw@ohchr.org by 10 March 2020. You are kindly requested to provide your submissions in English, French or Spanish.