Pakistan: Women journalists accuse Imran Khan’s govt of instigating online abuse

Pakistan: Women journalists accuse Imran Khan’s govt of instigating online abuse

The women journalists claimed that government officials were instigating online attacks against them over their reports critical of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf .

Pakistani women journalists and social media activists have said that government officials were instigating online attacks against them over their reports critical of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leadership.

“The online attacks are instigated by government officials and then amplified by a large number of Twitter accounts, which declare their affiliation to the ruling party,” said a joint statement signed by over 40 women journalists and commentators.

The joint statement said that personal details of women journalists and analysts have been made public in a “well-defined and coordinated campaign”.

“In some instances, our pictures and videos have been morphed,” the statement said. “We demand that the government immediately restrain its members from repeatedly targeting women in the media.”

“Last July, Shireen Mazari, the minister for human rights, promised to take notice of threats against journalists and to address the climate of abuse, bullying, fear, and censorship. Ms. Mazari, we are waiting,” the statement said.

Responding to the concerns raised by the women journalists, Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari said that it is disturbing to learn of women journalists being targeted and abused for their views.

“Abusing women because they are critical is never acceptable. Journalists do their job and to target them, especially gender-based abusive attacks on women journos, is absolutely unacceptable and disgusting,” the minister wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also noted with concern the threats faced by women journalists.

In a tweet, the PPP leader said: “Have taken notice of threats to women journalists as chair of human rights committee. Would like to invite you all to come brief our committee on the issue.”

Benzair Shah, an award-winning journalist and an analyst, told a local news channel that she has been trolled and faced online abuse in the past as well, but the attacks have become more relentless after her reporting of coronavirus in the country.

“This has been happening so often that I can now recognize the accounts which target me and other women in the media,” Shah said. “The names have become familiar. Most, if not all, declare their support for the ruling party.” – HT