Research reveals that attacks on women journalists in Brazil have be- come systematic. Attackers harass female journalists and share their personal data.
Social communication plays a fundamental role in society. Thus, journalism becomes a link between political, economic and social power and citizens, giving individuals a point of reference through which they can relate to others. A diverse newsroom thus refers to sensitivity in dealing with underrepresented issues from a humanitarian perspective and internalising journalism’s commitment to society.
Representation of women journalists means advancing inclusion in newsrooms. Unfortunately, however, this representation is threatened by constant reports of violence against women journalists. According to a survey conducted in late 2020 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UN- ESCO) and the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) with 901 participants from 125 countries, 73% of the 714 women journalists surveyed said they had experienced online violence in relation to their work. The impact of online violence on mental health was the most frequently cited conse- quence, at 26% – the study found.
“Online violence against women journalists is designed to belittle, humiliate, and shame; induce fear, silence, and retreat; discredit them pro- fessionally, undermining accountability, journalism and trust in facts” – said the report, which also aims to exclude women from public debate. In Brazil, such violent scenarios have recently tended to occur at protests or press conferences with members of the current federal government, particularly President Jair Bolsonaro. Political polarization has brought to light a misogynist culture that operates behind the flies of Congress. Moreover, this culture of bias extends to the political and skewed social views of most newsrooms.
In November 2020 alone, the Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism (Abraji) recorded 43 specific alerts that fall under the category of “attacks on freedom of expression”. Five of these attacks took place on the internet – and all were directed against women. Of the 72 entries in this category during the year, 20 were against women professionals, 36 against the media and 16 against men. The survey shows how attacks on women journalists in Brazil have become systematic. Attackers have found a way to spread in the digital environment through their networks and practices that combine characteristics of harassment, misogyny, persecution and disclosure of personal data.
In addition to recent initiatives on the safety of women journalists in the workplace, we need to go beyond reports to effectively address the need for institutional support for gender inclusion, mental health and the quality of the work environment. From a humanitarian and inclusive perspective, we propose to think outside the box when addressing this issue.Inclusive journalism as a communicative practice provides society with a sound knowledge of its diversity as well as an understanding of the relationship between individuals and society. Nonetheless, the importance of social inclusion in raising awareness about the violence faced by women journalists means a way to reduce biased behavior through an understanding of gender equality and representation.