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Nearly one-half of female journalists face abuse: Survey

Just one-quarter of workplaces have policy on gender-based violence, sexual harassment

Almost one in two women journalists have suffered sexual harassment, psychological abuse, online trolling and other forms of gender-based violence while working, according to a recent survey by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

The survey of almost 400 women journalists in 50 countries (including Canada) found that 48 per cent of women polled reported that they had suffered gender-based violence in their work, and 44 per cent had suffered online abuse.

The abuse took place both in the workplace and out in the field, with 45 per cent of perpetrators being people outside of the workplace — sources, politicians, readers or listeners — while 38 per cent were a boss or supervisor.

Two-thirds (66.15 per cent) did not make a formal complaint, and of those who did complain 84.8 per cent did not believe adequate measures were taken. Only 12.3 per cent were satisfied with the outcome.

Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, said the poll numbers were alarming and is calling for immediate action.

"The level of harassment women journalists face for simply doing their jobs is simply unacceptable," said Unifor national president Jerry Dias. "Media outlets in Canada need to take this threat seriously and they need to act to address the safety and security needs of their female journalists."

The survey found that 39 per cent of the time, the perpetrator of the abuse remained anonymous, and that only 26 per cent of workplaces had a policy covering gender based violence and sexual harassment.

"Women journalists from 50 countries tell the same story — gender-based violence in the world of work is widespread and action to combat it is either non-existent or inadequate in virtually every case," said Mindy Ran, co-chair of the International Federation of Journalists’ gender council. The association is the world's largest organization of journalists representing 600,000 journalists in 187 unions and associations in 146 countries.

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