April 27, 2016

When the Committee to Protect Journalists first started reporting on journalists and sexualized violence in 2011, it found a lot of women who’d never spoken about what they’d been through.

The climate for those discussions has changed with CPJ’s latest report. The 2016 edition of “Attacks on the Press,” CPJ’s annual report on worldwide press freedom, offers essays and reports on gender violence from around the world, according to an introductory letter from Executive Director Joel Simon.

As this volume makes clear, victims of sexualized violence — mostly women, but men as well — are speaking out. By doing so, they are helping reduce the stigma, making it easier for other victims to discuss their experiences. This, in turn, helps forge responses.

The report offers answers to many questions at the intersections of journalism and gender faced by journalists. Why do trolls bother? What are the dangers of reporting on LGBT issues in Africa? What do transgender journalists face? How can women deal with abuse on the internet? How can they work in countries that prefer men as reporters? How can they continue when their work leads to exile? What can women learn from gender-specific security training?

In 2013, the International Women’s Media Foundation launched a survey to collect data about women in the media. That year, IWMF reported that nearly two-thirds of the 1,000 women polled had experienced abuse or harassment.

The most commonly reported perpetrators of “intimidation, threats and abuse” were bosses (31.7%/597 of 1882 incidents where perpetrators were cited). Other perpetrators included supervisors, co-workers, interviewees, government officials, police, subordinates and “other.”

In the introduction, Simon also writes about how CPJ will document incidents of abuse going forward.

As more journalists speak out about these hidden abuses, CPJ is better able to document the violations. This means more data that will help us understand the nature and scope of the problem. In 2016, CPJ will make a more concerted effort to document incidents of sexualized violence and tag them on our website.

There’s a lot more in CPJ’s report, which you can find here, including a poll that asks which issue newsrooms should address first: Gender pay gap, sexual harassment, online trolling and gender-specific security training. So far, sexual harassment has the most votes.

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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