Global confab asks ASEAN to stop attacks vs women journalists

International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) members hold hands at the launch of a safety handbook for women journalists in war and conflict, in Manila on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. (Photo by Inday Espina Varona)

The conference said threats to press freedom and attacks against women journalists come from all directions, including Southeast Asian governments.

By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
Bulatlat

MANILA — An ongoing international conference of women media workers called on the leaders of Southeast Asian nations to uphold media freedom and stop the attacks on their colleagues, saying these often come from governments themselves and politicians’ supporters.

The 37th International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) biennial conference in Quezon City said such attacks are often political persecution that endanger women journalists.

“Over the last few years, we note the increasing number of attacks against journalists, whether in print, TV, broadcast or online, in this part of the world,” IAWRT International President and Swedish broadcaster Gunila Ivarsson told local reporters.

“The IAWRT also notes that online media women are subject to attacks at three times the rate of their male colleagues,” she said.

Ivarsson said such attacks are especially true in the Philippines, host of the 31st ASEAN Summit, which ranks fifth in the 2017 Global Impunity Index by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

“Since 1986, the ‘restoration of democratic institutions’ in the Philippines, 178 journalists have been killed, five of them under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte,” Ivarsson said.

IAWRT Philippine Chapter officer and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines national director Ronalyn Olea said that in the Philippines, online trolls supporting President Rodrigo Duterte even encourage the raping of Filipino journalists who publish reports critical of the government.

Olea named Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan, Interaksyon’s Lottie Salarda and ABS-CBN’s Inday Espina Varona as among the local journalists victimized by threats and harassment under the current government.

The IAWRT conference said it will discuss ways to uphold press freedom and protect journalists from murderous killings, harm, threats and harassment worldwide.

The conference opened a day before the start of the conference of 11-member nation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its partner-countries, including the United States of America.

The conference said threats to press freedom and attacks against women journalists come from all directions, including Southeast Asian governments.

“In Cambodia, the Cambodia Daily stopped publication due to government pressure, according to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists. In Myanmar, the Telecommunications Act and the unlawful Associations Act have been used by the government to arrest journalists,” IAWRT said.

“Cases of sedition had been filed against journalists in Thailand,” the group added.

“Women’s rights and media freedom are human rights that must be safeguarded and protected at all times,” IAWRT said.

The IAWRT also launched its Safety Handbook for Women Journalists, which can be downloaded for free from the group’s website iawrt.org. (http://bulatlat.com)

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