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Pakistan women journalists fight for equality amid high risk of violence, threats

ANI | Updated: Aug 30, 2022 15:34 IST

Islamabad [Pakistan], August 30 (ANI): Gender pay gap, gender bias-ness, and unfair treatment of female employees are issues rampant in Pakistan and the condition of women working as journalists in the South Asian country is no secret to the world.
Pakistan has consistently ranked low on indices rating freedom of expression, even online spaces are no different. Women in particular face the brunt of harassment and abuse. Women journalists are even more at risk of violence and threats due to the strict patriarchal societal norms in Pakistan.
According to a Pakistani journalist writing for Daily Times, women have played an essential role in the media in Pakistan. The sensitivity of reporting, and the truth-bearing manner of writing by women and for women, is a sign of the progression of women.
Despite this momentous change, women taking charge of how they are represented and written on and off screen has met with its own challenges.
A strong gender-biases has been in the nature of beats being assigned to women reporters and journalists are those considered "soft" in nature, such as the likes of "nature, weather, health", whereas they are still considered to be incompetent to cover politics, sports, crime, and economy.
The reason is simple and complex at the same time - gender stereotyping. Simple, because it is easy to vilify women's capabilities based on the judgment of their gender, and difficult, because the pressure to perform it right the very first time becomes high if given opportunities, Daily Times reported.
Citing a report by a media watchdog, Freedom Network, the writer said that the number of women in senior management positions in the journalism industry is far too less, which in turn reflects the glass ceiling that journalists who identify as women are facing in Pakistan.

The data also shows that less than 5 per cent of the estimated 20,000 Pakistani journalists are women.
Although recent debates and discussions have generated important conversations about women's safety in the workplace, defining the broad area of the workplace, especially for journalists who identify as women working on the ground or in the field.
This accorded visibility to women's experiences in working, their safety and security, and the inherent misogyny that exists in workplaces which poses a challenge to their productivity.
Online spaces are also not safe. A large number face threats in the form of rape, physical violence and intimidation in the form of public revealing of their personal data on daily basis. Journalists, citing growing cases of online bullying, say that these can incite violence and result in hate crimes, putting their safety at risk.
The country is one of the most dangerous places for journalists and the conditions for women scribes are even more appalling due to widespread online abuse, hatred and physical violence.
Trolling and such vitriolic attacks on the modesty of women have also been discussed time and again as hindrances to the progress of women, Daily Times reported.
Experts say that given the poor statistics of gender inequality in Pakistan, women journalists have to go the extra mile within media spheres to earn high authority positions and standard wages as compared to their male counterparts.
Media in Pakistan is heavily censored and any criticism of those in power or establishment, a euphemism used for the all-powerful military, is frowned upon. The journalists who criticise the establishment face threats from the intelligence arm of the military, ISI, and are subjected to various forms of harassment.
In the midst of all these challenges, the women journalists and their constant struggle to be heard is only increasing by the day. Despite these differences and problems coming to the surface, the fight for equality is not dying down just as yet. (ANI)