Women journalists seek probe into online and offline attacks


ISLAMABAD: A delegation of The Coalition for Women In Journalism’s (CFWIJ) Pakistan chapter met with Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari on Thursday to present a resolution for the protection of media workers in the country, particularly women journalists.

CFWIJ shared a list of action items and steps that are needed to help address the current climate of abuse, fear, and censorship prevalent in the industry.

The organization urged the government to launch an investigation into the perpetrators behind online and offline attacks. It is imperative that there be accountability against such vicious attacks. The group urged the government to register all such cases, especially the thousands of online and offline messages trolling CFWIJ member Asma Shirazi and colleague Hamid Mir, under Cyber Crime Bill.

Dr. Mazari assured the groups that the government, including the Prime Minister, condemned the fake news, vitriol and threats that affect journalists’ dignity, safety and work. She further stated that Prime Minister Imran Khan has a clear position against abuse, filthy language and violence against women, including journalists.

Women journalists in Pakistan find themselves in an exceedingly precarious situation. The narrowing gap between the online and offline world means that a virtual threat can become a physical one at any point. Families of women journalists also find themselves targeted.

The CFWIJ, their our global team, which stands in support of all women journalists trying to do their job, welcomed the government’s positive response to the issue and hoped that the culprits will face speedy justice, and a proper mechanism will be established to stop online trolls from targeting women journalists.

“We urge the government to invest solid efforts to put a stop to impunity when women journalists get attacked this way. We look forward to seeing visible efforts in this direction and will stay tuned for the results,” it said.

The delegation included CFWIJ Core Member and Senior Journalist Tanzeela Mazhar, Global Coordinator Luavut Zahid, Journalist Asma Shirazi, CFWIJ Member and DRF Executive Director Nighat Daad. CFWIJ #HeForShe Members and Bolo Bhi Director Usama Khilji and Senior Journalist Azaz Syed also supported the delegation.

The resolution was supported by several key international organizations, including Overseas Press Club, Article 19, Pen International, Society of Professional Journalists, African Women Media Association, Missouri University, Journalism school, Splice Media Group, BIRN, and Advocates for Silenced Turkey.