Online attacks on female journalists in Pakistan continue

Vicious attacks against female journalists and commentators in Pakistan continue. After the malicious online campaign from March 2020, vicious attacks on social media, docking and hacking attempts have intensified in August 2020. The Women in Journalism issued a joint statement calling for the government to:

  1. Immediately restrain its members from repeatedly targeting women in the media
  2. Send a clear message to all party members, supporters, and followers, to desist from launching these attacks, whether directly or indirectly
  3. Hold such individuals accountable and take action against them

The attacks are well coordinated and personal information about female journalists are made public. With the aim to discredit and intimidate them, these media workers are labeled as ‘fake news producers’, ‘enemy of the people’ and are being accused of taking bribes. ‘The online attacks are instigated by government officials and then amplified by a large number of Twitter accounts.’, the statement notes. Women in the media are targeted especially for their gender, since it opens the doors for gender-based slurs, threats of sexual, and physical violence. Their physical safety is also put at risk. Some journalists, reporters, and analysts have been locked out of their social media accounts as a result of hacking attempts, which limits their access to information and free speech, in addition.  All of this has resulted with many of them self-censoring and refraining from actively engaging online.