International Women´s Day 2012: Writing wrongs against women

March 8, 2012

International Women’s Day 2012: Writing wrongs against women

London, March 8, 2012, Article (edi). International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world not only to honour women’s social, political and economic, achievements but to reflect upon the obstacles that impede their progress and continue to deny them equality and justice. On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2012, ARTICLE 19 highlights the sensitive and too rarely discussed issue of discrimination against women within the media.

For the past year ARTICLE 19 has been implementing a pilot project in Bangladesh on the issue of women’s participation in the media. It has found evidence of significant levels of gender-based discrimination and censorship of women journalists. It has also found that that this reality is a “taboo” subject – rarely spoken of. The project identified that the sector itself is a major challenge: within the media there is little willingness to acknowledge issues of discrimination and censorship that originate in the sector’s own culture and ways of working.

“Discrimination against women is ever present in Bangladesh’s media work places. This is not an easy topic to uncover, identify or address but it is essential that we face up to it. This erodes freedom of expression of women throughout the country, and detracts from freedom of expression of all”, commented Tahmina Rahman, ARTICLE 19 Bangladesh and South Asia Director.

ARTICLE 19’s pioneering project has provided female journalists a secure opportunity to speak about their experiences of gender-based censorship and develop strategies to raise it with their editors. The project successfully generated a critical mass of both women and men journalists who strongly believe in enhancing the rights of women journalists in Bangladesh. “Someone has to speak out the truth”, said Zia Shaheen, Reporter of the Daily Manab Zamin, Barisal district.

Dialogue with media houses and their leadership has also been generated. “Media houses cannot shy away from these issues, it is in their own interest to acknowledge the prevalence of gender discrimination and censorship, and only then will they be able to develop good practices to make the media free from it” asserted Abdul Qayum, Joint Editor of Prothom Alo, the largest circulating Bangla newspaper in the country in one roundtable with media houses.

“Ending gender-based censorship within and by the media is integral to the realisation of women’s rights. It is also critical to the overall fight against censorship, to freedom of expression more broadly and to media freedom. The silencing of women journalists and of women within the media demeans the sector itself, undermines human rights and weakens democracy” says Dr. Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

SEEMO Condemns Physiccal Attack on Montenegrin Journalist Olivera Lakic

March 8, 2012

SEEMO Condemns Physical Attack on Montenegrin Journalist Olivera Lakic

VIENNA, Mar. 8, 2012 (edi) – The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), strongly condemns the brutal physical attack on Olivera Lakic, an investigative reporter with the Podgorica-based daily Vijesti. When she opened the door of her apartment building, at 9:30 PM on Mar. 7, 2012, a man approached Lakic and hit her several times in the head. The journalist was hospitalised. Her life is not in danger. The perpetrator escaped.

This was not the first time that Lakic had been threatened. In February 2011, she reported on illegal labelling of tobacco products. Both she and her family received threats. Two men are currently on trial for threatening her.

While SEEMO applauds the fact that the director of the Montenegrin police, Bozidar Vuksanovic, has taken a personal interest in the case, and arrived on the scene of the attack, the organisation recalls that this is not the first attack against Vijesti. Most previous cases remain unsolved.

As SEEMO wrote in July and August 2011, four clearly marked cars belonging to Vijesti were set ablaze, in three separate attacks. The perpetrators have not been found.

On Sep. 24, 2010, Zeljko Ivanovic, one of Vijesti’s founders, and several other journalists, received death threats by mail.

On Aug. 5, 2009, Mihailo Jovovic, editor of Vijesti, and Boris Pejovic, a photojournalist, were physically attacked by the mayor of Podgorica and his son while documenting their alleged illegal parking in town. The mayor’s son used his gun to threaten the journalist. Jovovic was treated in hospital for a head injury.

On Sep. 1, 2007, Zeljko Ivanovic was physically attacked by several assailants near a restaurant, where the newspaper was celebrating its 10th anniversary. Ivanovic was injured and received medical treatment. Although the perpetrators of this attack were found, the masterminds remain at large.

Despite the prompt condemnations of the previous attacks, Montenegrin authorities have not been effective in creating an environment in which journalists can work free from pressure.

“Considering the frequency of attacks against Vijesti journalists and property, I am led to believe that this daily is a direct target,” said SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic. “I call on the authorities to find the person who beat Olivera Lakic as well as all those responsible for the previous attacks. Montenegro aspires to join the European Union. In a democracy, journalists should not be beaten or threatened, and any perpetrators should be found and prosecuted.