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Most Female Journalists Face Online Violence, Gender-Based Attacks: Report

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The report ‘The Chilling’ shows that almost three quarters of the female journalists surveyed have experienced online violence during their work.

India Today Web Desk

New Delhi,UPDATED: November 7, 2022 13:31 IST

Nearly three quarters of the female journalists surveyed have experienced online violence while on the job. (AFP photo)

By India Today Web Desk: Online violence against women journalists is one of the most serious global threats to press freedom and has contributed to the murder of female reporters, a new global report finds.

Researchers behind the report called “The Chilling: Global Trends in Online Violence Against Women Journalists,” interviewed more than 1,000 female journalists in 15 countries, according to The Guardian.

Globally, the survey found that nearly three-quarters of female journalists surveyed had experienced online violence while on the job.


Threats of physical violence, including death threats, were identified by 25 percent and sexual assault by 18 percent.

13 percent of respondents described threats of violence against their loved ones, including children and infants.

Nearly half — 48 percent — of female journalists surveyed reported having been harassed with unsolicited private messages on social media.


Women who work in journalism around the world are also the main targets of abuse due to factors such as racism, homophobia and various types of discriminatory behavior by the public.

The report further reveals that female journalists also face networked and planned disinformation by agencies, sources and even the public to avoid reporting critically and rising above their professional arena.

The authors of The Chilling are now calling on governments, the news industry and the giant tech companies to do more to address what they say is “a crisis of online violence against women journalists.”

They also urge social media companies to review algorithms that fuel hatred against women, and to de-platform and punish perpetrators of gender-based online violence.


The report, based on research from the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the University of Sheffield, highlights the evolving challenges women journalists face.

It calls “victim blaming and slutshaming that perpetuates sexist and misogynistic responses to offline violence against women in the online environment, where patriarchal norms are aggressively reinforced.”


Among those interviewed was award-winning Guardian and Observer investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr. Cadwalladr had revealed how personal data of millions of Facebook users was secretly collected by British consultancy Cambridge Analytica, mainly for political advertising.

The investigation team’s analysis found that Cadwalladr was the target of 10,400 separate cases of apparent abuse between December 2019 and January 2021.

It ruled that the abuse was highly gender-based and intended to “humiliate, belittle and discredit” the journalist both personally and professionally.

The report also maps the online-offline violence trajectory and shows how digital intimidation and threats have led to offline attacks. It highlights the murder of Mexican journalist Maria Elena Ferral, who alleged online harassment of a mayor’s son before she was murdered.


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