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Nearly half of women journalists face abuse: survey

November 24, 2017

Toronto – Unifor is calling for immediate action following the release of a survey that found nearly half of women journalists polled around the world reported facing gender-based violence in the workplace.

“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 by the International Federation of Journalists, of which Unifor is a member, 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.

“These results point to the strong need for employers to take this issue extremely seriously,” said Unifor Media Director Howard Law. “Those poll numbers are alarming and we must see dramatic measures to make change.”

Law said the situation in Canada is no better than what is reflected in the survey.

The survey, which polled 400 women journalists in 50 countries, including Canada, 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 IFJ Gender Council co-chair Mindy Ran.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is the world's largest organization of journalists representing 600,000 journalists in 187 unions and associations in 146 countries. The results of a second survey on union action against gender-based violence at work will be published later this year.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.