Shireen Mazari promises swift action against online trolls targeting women journalists

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari met with representatives from The Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) on Thursday and assured them that the government takes the issue of threats against journalists seriously and is working to address it.

A delegation from CFWIJ’s Pakistan chapter presented Mazari with “a list of action items and steps that are needed to help address the current climate of abuse, fear and censorship prevalent in the industry,” according to a statement shared by the organisation.

The delegation included CFWIJ Core Member and Senior Journalist Tanzeela Mazhar, CFWIJ Global Coordinator Luavut Zahid, CFWIJ Member and Senior Journalist Asma Shirazi, and CFWIJ Member and DRF Executive Director Nighat Daad.

CFWIJ #HeForShe Members and Bolo Bhi Director Usama Khilji and Senior Journalist Azaz Syed also supported the delegation.

The organisation’s members urged the government to launch a probe into the online and offline attacks against journalists, calling for cases to be registered against the perpetrators.

Take a look: A grave threat to freedoms

“It is imperative that there be accountability against such vicious attacks,” read the CFWIJ statement, adding that the relevant clauses of the Cyber Crime Bill must be invoked given the “thousands of online and offline messages trolling CFWIJ member Asma Shirazi and colleague Hamid Mir”.

“Women journalists in Pakistan find themselves in an exceedingly precarious situation. The narrowing gap between the online and offline world means that a virtual threat can become a physical one at any point. Families of women journalists also find themselves targeted,” observed the statement issued by CFWIJ.

Mazari assured the group that the government, especially Imran Khan, had “condemned the fake news, vitriol, and threats that affect journalists’ dignity, safety and work.”

She also asserted that the premier “has a clear position against abuse, filthy language and violence against women, including journalists”.

The organisation welcomed the positive response by the government for the redressal of the issue and hoped that through solid efforts the “culprits will face speedy justice, and a proper mechanism will be established to stop online trolls from targeting women journalists”.

The group said that they look forward to the government putting a stop “to impunity when women journalists get attacked this way” and that they shall “stay tuned for the results”.

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