Published: 08th July 2021
World Press Freedom Index 2020: Pakistan unsafe for women journalists, ranks 145th out of 180 countries
The women who speak against the incumbent government and its handling of the pandemic are severely targeted as revealed by women journalists who signed a petition against the government last year
Pakistan is one of the most dangerous places for journalists and the conditions for women scribes are even more appalling due to widespread online abuse, hatred and physical violence. Pakistan is ranked 145th out of 180 countries in RSF's (Reporters Without Borders) 2020 World Press Freedom Index.
Freedom Network, a media watchdog, said that 33 journalists were killed for their work between 2013 and 2019 in Pakistan. The report also revealed that journalists who work in print media are twice more likely to be targets of legal action than those who work in electronic media.
Women journalists are even more at risk of violence and threats due to the strict patriarchal societal norms in Pakistan. A large number face threats in the form of rape, physical violence and intimidation in the form of public revealing of their personal data on daily basis, Pakistan writer Mehmil Khalid wrote in Pakistan Daily.
Journalists, citing growing cases of online bullying, say that these can incite violence and result in hate crimes, putting their safety at risk.
Experts say that given the poor statistics of gender inequality in Pakistan, women journalists have to go the extra mile within media spheres to earn high authority positions and standard wages as compared to their male counterparts.
The women who speak against the incumbent government and its handling of the pandemic are severely targeted as revealed by women journalists who signed a petition against the government last year.
"We are being prevented from exercising our right to free speech and participate in public discourse. When we self-censor, others are prevented from receiving information to form their views, which is a violation of their rights under Article 19-A," the journalists said in the report. "In some cases, journalists have been locked out of their social media accounts as a result of hacking attempts."
Media in Pakistan is heavily censored and any criticism of those in power or establishment, a euphemism used for all-powerful military, is frowned upon. The journalists who criticise the establishment face threats from the intelligence arm of the military, ISI, and are subjected to various forms of harassment.