Online abuse and harassment against women journalists

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Briefing on online harassment and abuse against women journalists in the Iranian diaspora

ARTICLE 19’s briefing on Online harassment against women journalists in the Iranian diaspora, produced in collaboration with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), looks into the toxic and often violent space women journalists reporting on Iran inhabit.

In March 2021, ARTICLE 19 interviewed women journalists from the Iranian diaspora who cover Iran for various media outlets and who face increased and concerning levels of online harassment and abuse as a result of their work.

The testimonies indicate that the attacks faced online often include but are not limited to direct death threats against them and their families and the dissemination of their personal information, known as doxing. Many of these forms of online harassment and abuse have a clear sexualised and gender-based pattern.

Women journalists based in Iran are also frequently subject to other severe forms of discrimination, harassment and — in the case of arrests — torture, sexual assault, and lack of due process.

Governments, media organisations and social-media companies must support Iranian journalists in the diaspora.

Understanding online abuse

Responding to online abuse


ARTICLE 19 believes that international standards and guarantees of freedom of expression provide the framework to resolve tensions and maximise women’s enjoyment of both the right to freedom of expression and information and the right to equality. We believe that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to these challenges. What is needed is a holistic approach combining political commitment to the protection of human rights, a robust legal and policy framework and comprehensive and well-resourced implementation.

ARTICLE 19’s briefing papers set out recommended approaches to tackling online abuse and harassment against women journalists.

• The first brief looks at States’ obligations to adopt and implement measures to protect and promote both the right to freedom of expression and gender equality, based on existing international human rights standards.
• The second brief looks at policies and practices of three dominant social media companies and their role in addressing online harassment and abuse against women on their platforms.
• The third brief examines the scope of State obligations to address online harassment and abuse of women journalists, and to conduct effective investigations into the online harassment and abuse.

This work is guided by the principle that coordinated and focused action in promoting the rights to freedom of expression and equality is essential for fostering a tolerant, pluralistic and diverse democratic society in which all human rights can be realised.

We hope that these briefs will provide support to those working toward women’s rights and freedom of expression activists to guide for action in countering gender-based discrimination and violations of freedom of expression and discrimination online and offline.

Freedom of expression and women’s equality Ensuring comprehensive rights protections
Online harassment and abuse against women journalists and major social media platforms
Investigating online harassment and abuse of women journalists

Free expression and the Internet are key to combating violence against women

On International Day to end Violence Against Women, ARTICLE 19’s Head of Gender and Sexuality Judy Taing discusses how securing an internet free of abuse is vital to efforts to end VAW.


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