A group of media stakeholders and experts convened on Thursday to examine how to enhance the protection of female journalists against intimidation, and the need to ensure their adequate safety for a successful poll in preparation for the forthcoming general elections in 2023. It was at a Webinar organized by the International Press Centre(IPC) with
A group of media stakeholders and experts convened on Thursday to examine how to enhance the protection of female journalists against intimidation, and the need to ensure their adequate safety for a successful poll in preparation for the forthcoming general elections in 2023.
It was at a Webinar organized by the International Press Centre(IPC) with the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), aimed at promoting greater awareness on how female journalists are being assaulted and harassed in the course of their duties.
Speaking sequel to a research recently conducted by the IPC on ‘Safety of Female Journalist in Nigeria’ Dr Tunde Akanni, an associate professor in the department of communication and media studies, Lagos State University, noted that female journalists encounter stigmatisation mainly because of cultural sentiments in Africa.
He stated that many societies in Nigeria are still stuck with the mindset to undermine women journalists when performing their professional duties. He noted that as much as the profession of journalism is susceptible to assault, female journalists are more vulnerable than their male counterparts.
He further explained that apart from the societal intimidation, the mental safety of female journalists in their places of work is quite disheartening that such situations still exist in the newsrooms.
“The number of derogatory labels that are in different societies in West Africa, people attached to women journalists not believing that women should have anything to do at all in journalism practice, in some societies it is believed that women practice of journalism amounts to an outright violation of social norms, some other societies, they see them as prostitutes.
“This research on the safety of journalists clearly identifies three objectives ascribed in it. The first objective is to examine the safety and protection challenges of female journalists. The second one is to provide an overview of the current safety practices and procedures of the media organisations, the third looks at how all of these challenges affect the performance and safety of female journalists and finally to documents the experience and threats that female journalists in Nigeria and west Africa face in the course of their duties.
“Irrespective of the workplaces of the female journalists in Nigeria or around West Africa, female journalists are all vulnerable to attacks not only from their beats but strangely in the number of other quarters including their workplace. Indeed, from colleagues, male colleagues, including their bosses. Yet another quarter of attacks on female journalists is their interface with security agencies and the third one is their interface with agents who also harass them. All this constitutes a violation of the human right of our female colleagues. Not only fundamental human rights, but rights that human rights instrument exclusively for women referred to as said of the convention of elimination and discrimination against women.
“The reports tell us that female journalists are four times more prone to attacks and harassment than their female counterparts are likely to encounter. These reports also reveal to us that the attacks that women suffer are both and offline. So, there is no refuge anyway for our female counterparts, unfortunately. The attacks may manifest in the form of physical assaults, and some have been unfortunate to have been raped.
Speaking on the safety of female journalists, Dr Akanni urged the media houses to prioritise the welfare of female journalists, particularly during the electioneering periods. He appealed to media organisations to create safe reporting platforms for women. He noted that with such a provision, they will be out of danger zones both mentally and physically, and that will further protect them from social vices.
“A basic welfare package which will prioritise insurance scheme, adequate salaries, sleepover facilities, adequate transportation and prompt payment of local and transport allowances should be packaged for female journalists. The creation of safe reporting platforms for women is very important; where the rights of female journalists can be defended so that they don’t face incessant harassment.
“Another recommendation says, training of confidence building safety tips as well as provision of resources for mental health and post-traumatic therapy should be provided for women journalists. Yet another recommendation is that it won’t be out of place to educate the public on why female journalists should be exempted from certain exercises if some adequate protection cannot be guaranteed. Work safety should henceforth generously be provided such as will address issues like sexual harassment and intimidation.
Ms Funke Treasure Durodola, a veteran journalist and girl-child rights activist, said from her previous experiences, female journalists have been objects of physical, mental and mental attacks. She noted that incessant attacks have made some of her female counterparts underperform in their duties.
She advised the female journalist to prioritise their safety above other engagements. She asked the journalists to learn some basic safety tips to keep them safe while doing their election duties.
“What I am going to recommend to the female journalists is that this is not a tea party, and no story is worth losing your life. so my first recommendation to the female journalist for the 2023 general elections is your safety is first, and you must prioritise yourself in that story you are going to write, so take care of yourself. Go online and learn personal safety tips that will keep you alive to tell that story.
“The second thing I’m going to recommend is safety training, not just for the journalist generally but for female journalists specifically because again I’m going to emphasise vulnerabilities. I am also going to recommend that the unions, both NUJ and NAWOJ to prioritise e insurance scheme as well for this election period for female journalists.
A group of media stakeholders and experts convened in preparation for the forthcoming general elections in 2023 to examine how to enhance the protection of female journalists against intimidation, which appears to be prevalent during the electioneering process nationwide.
Similarly, Victoria Ibanga, the Editor-in-Chief of the Next news website, said from her experience female journalists are often attacked because of their gender.
“Gender plays a key role in how safe female journalists are. Men also are harassed, they are intimidated by security agencies, but women’s experience goes beyond physical harassment, intimidation, and all of that. Having spent close to thirty years in newsrooms I know how difficult it is to cover beats. The media system reflects what happens in society.