CFWIJ's Press Freedom Status for Women Journalists: July Witnessed the Highest Number of Physical Assaults in 2021

2021-08-05 08:46


Throughout the month of July 2021, The Coalition For Women In Journalism documented an alarming 61 cases of violations against women journalists. Types of violations include murder, abduction, detentions, and physical assaults in the field, among other various kinds of press freedom attacks towards women journalists reporting from different parts of the world. 
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Three journalists were detained by state authorities:

Belarus: Journalist Hanna Halyota was detained after a raid on her home by state authorities. 

Cuba: CubaNet journalist Camila Acosta will be prosecuted for crimes against State Security for covering the demonstrations on July 11. 

Tunisia: The Cairo bureau chief from New York Times, Vivian Yee, was detained for a few hours and questioned.


31 cases of physical assault:

Columbia: Journalist Rebecca Linda Marlene Spöressor shared on Facebook on Friday, July 23 that she survived an assassination attempt. 

Georgia: 54 media workers were physically assaulted by a far-right anti-LGBTQ group in the Georgian capital. The news crew belonged to 16 different media companies and at least 14 women journalists were among those attacked. 

Peru: Reporters, who were covering protests of Fujimori supporters, were physically assaulted by a group called “La Resistencia”. At least four women journalists suffered injuries. 

Turkey: Journalists Büşra Taşkıran and Berna Kişin were physically assaulted by the police while covering demonstrations at Sincan Prison demanding the release of The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Faruk Gergerlioğlu. 

Turkey: Police attacked a gathering to commemorate those who lost their lives in the Suruç Massacre in Istanbul. At least eight female journalists were physically assaulted while covering the event. 

United States: Jennifer Joas, a correspondent for NBC Connecticut, and her cameraman were attacked by an unidentified woman. 

United States: The Guardian reporter Lois Beckett was assaulted by protesters while covering an anti-transgender rally outside a spa in Los Angeles. 


12 cases of legal harassment were recorded:

Belarus: Free press is facing extreme challenges in the country. Several women journalists are facing persecution in the form of unjustified detention, arrest and raids at apartments. Tatiana Smotkina, Anastasia Zanko and Alesia Latsinskaya are a few of those affected journalists. 

Belarus: Police raided the homes of at least 15 journalists, six of whom were women. The journalists’ laptops, phones and equipment were also confiscated. 

Canada: In response to a lawsuit by the Canadian Association of Journalists, the RCMP registered an affidavit against journalist Brandi Morin accusing her of lying about being prohibited from visiting the site despite there being video proof to the contrary. 

India:  A first information report (FIR) was registered against journalist Nidhi Suresh in Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur area, following the publication of her report that detailed the harassment a woman civilian faced after her conversion from Hinduism to Islam. 

Turkey: Melis Alphan’ case is scheduled to reopen in the Turkish Supreme Court after the prosecution appealed the decision to acquit the journalist. 

Turkey: The hearing of the trial against six journalists, including Derya Okatan was yet again postponed. The next hearing is scheduled to take place on December 9, 2021. 


Five journalists faced serious threats:

Brazil: Journalist and columnist Juliana Dal Piva was threatened by President Jair Bolsonaro’s lawyer Frederick Wassef after a podcast was aired exposing the president's corruption. 

China: Beijing bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, Alice Su, was harangued alongside her colleague, by citizens. This case is similar to what Katrina Yu, an Al Jazeera English correspondent, expressed her concerns about. 

India: The police assaulted the father of exiled Kashmiri photojournalist Masrat Zahra. The journalist claims this is an attempt to intimidate her into silence.

Russia: Anna Mongayt, a presenter for Dozhd TV, received online threats after interviewing a same-sex couple for Elle magazine. 


Three journalists confronted online harassment:

Canada: Natasha Fatah, host and reporter for CBC News, endured vicious trolling by an anonymous account who wished ill health upon her and her family. 

Turkey: Independent journalists Canan Kaya and Nevşin Mengü were falsely accused online of being funded by international organisations because of their views on the refugee crisis. 


Two incidents of sexual harassment came to light:

India: A website sexualizing Muslim women, including those in the news media industry, was discovered earlier this month and was eventually taken down after public outrage.  

United States: Journalist Brianna Hamblin who is associated with Spectrum News 1 was harassed by multiple men while on assignment on July 23. 


Two women journalists faced state persecution:

Iran/United States: A prominent Iranian human rights activist and journalist living in New York, Masih Alinejad was the target of an international kidnapping attempt. Four Iranian intelligence officials have been convicted by the Federal court in Manhattan for orchestrating the plot. 

Venezuela: Mildred Manrique, journalist associated with 800 Noticias, confirmed that armed security officers attempted to search her house without having a prior notice or a search warrant. 


One journalist encountered a racist incident:

Canada: A Facebook user messaged journalist Nahreman Issa, attacking her expertise and professionalism by targeting her race. 


One journalist faced verbal harassment:

Spain: Sonia Lopez, a correspondent for Antena 3, was harassed while covering an anti-mask demonstration in the Plaza de Colón, Madrid. 

And not all forms of violence are restricted to our personhood, sometimes violence involves erasure of our histories:

Canada: Canada based Ukrainian journalist, Ustia Stefanchuk was censored by Facebook after publishing a post about the torture her ancestors were subjected to at the hands of Soviet forces in 1941. 

Cover Photo Credit: (AFP via Getty Images)