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Tribute by Reporters Without Borders on International Women’s Day

The website of Reporters Without Borders has published a tribute to ten women activists in different parts of the world, on the occasion of Noushin KhorasaniInternational Women’s Day. The collective section of the tribute and that related to Iran are published below:
“More and more women are entering journalism, a profession long reserved for men. Some have chosen to focus on investigative reporting, covering human rights violations, corruption or other subjects that are off-limits in their society. Like their male colleagues, they are the targets of threats, intimidation, physical violence and even murder because of their reporting.
But because they are women, the harassment often takes specific, gender-based forms, including sexual smears, violence of a sexual nature and threats against their families. The very fact of being a woman journalist is regarded in some societies as a “violation of social norms” and may lead to reprisals.
In a profession that is still mainly masculine, many women prefer not to speak out about the specific difficulties and dangers to which they are exposed in connection with their work. But a worldwide study published last year by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) spoke for itself.
Nearly two thirds of the 977 women journalists questioned in the IWMF survey said they had been the victims of intimidation, threats or abuse in connection with their work. In a third of the cases, the person responsible was their boss. Nearly half had been subjected to sexual harassment and more than a fifth to physical violence. Despite the psychological impact of this abuse, most of the victims say nothing.
But some do. “I was often threatened by phone or in anonymous letters for two years (…) I was warned that I would be responsible for the deaths of members of my family if I did not stop working,” an Afghan woman journalist told Reporters Without Borders last year. In the end, she did resign but she went public about the harassment. Women in a patriarchal society often give up working because the authorities do not protect them and impunity is the norm.
Physical safety is a constant challenge for Zaina Erhaim, who trains citizen-journalists in northern Syria and for Farida Nekzad, the founder of Afghanistan’s Wakht News Agency. Hla Hla Htay, an Agence France-Presse reporter in Burma, and Marcela Turatti, who freelances for Proceso in Mexico, constantly confront the difficulties of being a woman in “a man’s profession.”
Iran’s Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani and Liberia’s Mae Azango describe the harassment they have received because of their journalistic commitment to women’s rights. Khadija Ismayilova, Azerbaijan’s leading investigative journalist, and Brankica Stanković, Serbia’s most famous TV reporter, have been subjected to sexual threats.
In Democratic Republic of Congo, Solange Lusiku Nsimire, the only female newspaper editor in the eastern Kivu region, is worried about here family, which has been the target of threats and attacks. Her concern is shared by Morocco’s Fatima Al Ifriki, who even stopped writing at one point in order to protect her family.
Noting the dangers that women journalists confront, the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity stresses the “importance of taking a gender-sensitive approach.” Such an approach needs urgent implementation.”

“Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani
A journalist, writer and translator, Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani is the founder and editor of the Feminist School website and one of Iran’s leading women’s rights advocates. For the past 20 years, she has tirelessly used her writing skills to condemn discrimination and abuses against women and to promote change in Iran.
She is also one of the founders of the campaign for “One Million Signatures” to a petition for changes to Iranian laws that discriminate against women – a campaign for which she and her fellow activists have paid a high price. Harassed constantly by the authorities for the past 20 years because of her writing and her defence of women’s rights, she has been arrested several times and was given a one-year suspended prison sentence in 2012.
Although blocked inside Iran, her website is a key source of information about the problems of women in Iran, and a forum for debating these problems. Leading writers on women’s rights such as Mansoreh Shojai and Azadeh Davachi are regular contributors. In all, Khorasani has written around 20 books and 100 articles, from those she wrote for Jense Dovom (The Second Sex), a periodical published in the early 1990s, to “Shirin wants to be president,” her latest book.”
Website of Reporters Without Borders 05.03.2015
Mazanan 07.03.2015

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