Female journalist attacked covering political protests in Pakistan11 Dec, 2014
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned by the growing number of attacks against female journalists in Pakistan in recent months. On December 8, a female journalist was attacked covering a political rally in Faisalabad, in Punjab, Pakistan, the third attack on a female journalist since August this year.
Geo News anchor, Maria Memon, was attacked as she covered the political rally of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the party of former cricketer Imran Khan. During the rally, clashes broke out between PTI supporters and those of the ruling party, Pakistan Muslim league (Nawaz) (PML-N). At first Memon was verbally assaulted, however the attack escalated when she and her producer were hit by a bottle of water, followed by a number of empty bottles. Memon was then attacked with sticks as she sat atop of a Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) van.
Memon said about the attack: “I don’t know why they focused on us as there was no provocation on our part. And as usual while covering rallies, I had taken great care of what I was wearing as not to offend anyone. Remembering the incidents that colleagues have faced, we had parked in a relatively safe spot aware from the crowd near the clock tower in Faisalabad.”
Memon was forced to end her reporting prematurely due to safety concerns.
“I am shaken for now but no serious damage done. I will go back into the field. Such incidents will not make women stay at home in fear. It is part of the job” said Maria Memon.
This is not the first incident of attacks against female journalists. In August and September this year, during extensive political protests across Pakistan, Farhat Jawad and Amna Amir from Geo News were attacked by PTI workers in Islamabad. Jawad had to take refuge in a DSNG van of another channel as political workers tried to attack her. They broadcasted her name and station, encouraging others to also attack her. Luckily, Jawad managed to escape physically unharmed. Amir however was wrangled by political workers to stop her reporting of the event. When she refused she received a number of death threats.
The IFJ Asia Pacific office said: “Female journalists continue to face a number of obstacles and attacks like these further discourage their involvement in the media industry. Since August, media workers across Pakistan have been subjected to attacks as they cover political protests, being attacked for simply doing their jobs.”
The IFJ calls on the Pakistan government, authorities and political parties to support the media and immediately investigate these attacks that weaken Pakistan’s media industry.