New Delhi, 8 March, 2022: On International Women’s Day, the Indian Journalists Union joins the International Federation of Journalists to demand urgent action to tackle the widespread online abuse and harassment faced by women journalists around the world. The call comes following results of two global surveys which exposed a serious lack of action among media companies.
The IJU has appealed to all its affiliates across the country as well as media houses to adopt strict protocols and strong collective agreements to combat online abuse. This after the IFJ survey carried out in 56 countries revealed that: 79% of unions and associations said they were aware of cases of online abuse among their members; just 16% have collective agreements covering online abuse; 75% of unions and associations have made online abuse a priority issue and 63% of unions backed a call to adopt and ratify ILO Convention 190 on violence and harassment in the world of work.
The IJU has urged its State unions to take up specific measures to fight online violence which include adoption of protection codes, setting up of national committees for safety of journalists, mapping of cases, development of an index of physical security of members and platforms to report attacks or free legal help lines.
In a statement, IJU President and former member of Press Council of India and Secretary General and IFJ Vice President Sabina Inderjit said the union was distressed to note that there a lack of action on part of media organisations to incorporate the initiatives suggested. As per the Survey: Two-thirds of respondents claimed online harassment was not a priority for their media company, and 44% said the issue was not even discussed; only a fifth of respondents said their media adopted a protocol or mechanism that allows women journalists and media workers to report online abuse and be supported and protected in such cases!
The IJU urged that the issue at hand requires much more be done by media houses to provide safer newsrooms and concrete protocols to eradicate the phenomenon. In India, it said online abuse of women journalists is shockingly on the rise and that authorities too dealing with the issue must become proactive: There must be a zero tolerance against online abuse.