One hundred and twenty journalists and media workers were killed between 2017 and 2018,14 of which were women and included the editor of Indian newspaper Lankesh Patrike, Gauri Lankesh.
Last year in India, Lankesh was shot in front of her home. She was a defender of women’s rights, an advocate for press freedom and a critique of right-wing politics and the Hindu caste system.
Lankesh was also the target of two libel suits from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party. Though Lankesh’s murderers remain unknown, suspects were taken into custody on Friday.
Meanwhile, 97 advocates from a top powerful law firm to defend MoS MEA MJ Akbar against sexual harassment allegations as he files criminal defamation suit against journalist Priya Ramani. Journalists in India need to fight back this intimidation. #MeToo pic.twitter.com/H0XYNgbpNp
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) October 15, 2018
Recently, India has experiences what many people call “its own #MeToo movement,” with a surge of allegations against high-ranking politicians, celebrities and other men in power. Women journalists are leading the movement after years of silently enduring harassment both from their superiors and people on social media.
Newsrooms remain male-dominated in 2018 despite a female majority among upcoming journalism students. Sexual harassment by editors is still common according to a survey conducted by the Columbia Journalism Review.
According to Gulf News, many journalists in India took to Twitter throughout the week to share their harassment-related experiences with others in the industry.
Many are calling the movement “transformative,” citing the attention the movement will bring to the largely unenforced India’s Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act of 2013.
I have been pawed by a politician; stalked by a lawyer, molested on assignment. I didn't speak because like many women I feared I'd be seen as weak. I write on #MeToo and #SackMJAkbar for @washingtonpost with inputs from @TheRestlessQuil @priyaramanihttps://t.co/C5was3AeZx
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) October 11, 2018
Sexual assault and harassment are not confined to journalists in India. German authorities recently arrested a suspect in connection to the rape and murder of Bulgarian investigative reporter Viktoria Marinova.
People held a vigil for Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova, whose body was found raped, beaten and suffocated soon after she reported on alleged corruption involving EU funds.
Watchdogs rank Bulgaria lowest in the EU for press freedom and highest in corruption. pic.twitter.com/coULvqqbdY
— AJ+ (@ajplus) October 8, 2018
Marinova was the third journalist and second female reporter to be killed in the EU this year. Before her death, she held an interview with two other journalists who were looking into allegations of fraud with EU funds.
Her murder has sparked outrage among the international community.
“She was our colleague and her work [was] worth enough that someone wanted her dead,” said fellow Bulgarian journalist Ruslan Trad.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called for more protection for journalists (and women journalists specifically) in the past but now the nonprofit is specifically concerned about reporters’ safety in advance of the Afghan elections. Since 2018 began, 13 journalists have been killed in the Middle Eastern nation.
Afghanistan, India and Bulgaria fall low on the RSF 2018 World Press Freedom Index, ranking 118, 138 and 111 respectively out of 180 countries.
RSF’s partner organization in Afghanistan, the Center for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ), held a training session for female reporters based on the RSF Safety Guide for Journalists and the Handbook for Journalists During Elections.
CPAWJ has campaigned for Afghans to “vote for the candidates that support the rights of women journalists.” The organization has also called to improve laws regarding women’s safety from harassment in the workplace.
#AfghanistanThe Center for Protection of Afghan Woman Journalists (CPAWJ) shared the charter of harassment prevention for women’s promotion in the media prepared with the help of the Reporters Without Borders with the media outlets.https://t.co/CxytYCvBwf pic.twitter.com/VjS7OkYKnX
— CPAWJ English account (@CPAWJ2) August 15, 2018