"Globally, newsrooms are often majority staffed by women, so violence against women reporters has deeper implications for the rights of any citizen to stay informed," says Titi Gabi, chair of the Pacific Freedom Forum.
"Silence from many media outlets and violence victims on abuses they face, often from their partners, represents a deep shame and silence which all journalists must unite to condemn. PFF calls on journalists to continue to uphold ethics and integrity in reporting gender-based violence as a leading story in Pacific nations – and to be more vigilant, vocal and supportive of colleagues facing similar problems.."
Marking 16 days of activism against violence against women, Pacific impetus to the global campaign from November 25th to December 11th every year tends to come from civil society, gender advocacy and human rights networks.
Internal PFF alerts and those shared among a fledgling regional grouping for Pacific women journalists, called Pacific WAVE, reveals many incidents, particularly amongst women journalists in Melanesia, suffering from harassment, emotional and physical partner abuse.
“This is creating an ethical and cultural challenge for monitoring media freedom," says Gabi, from Port Moresby.
“Strategic and evidence-based actions to fight gender inequality in the media is difficult if the ones who are supposed to be shining the light on issues that need airing are also swallowed up in the silence on violence against women.”
The regional media freedom monitoring network which launched in 2008 has found a growing trend of reluctance from women journalists to report threats, harassment, abuse and violence, especially those suffering in their own homes.
The PFF concerns are confirmed by the WAVE Media Network which in its founding sessions and on going networking, reveals compelling but private stories of women journalists forced out of their workplaces after personal experiences linked to their professional calling.
PFF co chair Monica Miller of American Samoa says it's "Distressing that virtually all these alerts do not progress to statements because the information cannot be verified when women and their own colleagues in the workplace don’t feel they can make a stand for their rights and dignity, for whatever reason.”
“We call on women, and men, in the media to report threats, violence and abuse as soon as these events happen," says Miller.
"We encourage media colleagues aware of these events to speak out. Let perpetrators know their actions are criminal, not a ‘private’ or ‘domestic’ matter. And we ask media organisations to uphold gender equality in the workplace."
Secure journalists are more productive journalists, says Miller, which makes for better news reporting and well-informed, more productive communities.--ENDS
CONTACT: PFF Chair Titi Gabi | Freelance Journalist | Papua New Guinea Mail: PO Box 7776, Boroko, NCD, Papua New Guinea | Mob: (675) 7314 3929 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org PFF co-Chair Monica Miller | KHJ Radio | American Samoa Mob 684 258-4197 | Office 684 633-7793 | Email: email@example.com The Pacific Freedom Forum are a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.