Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2016, 15:01 GMT

Bangladesh: Action needed now to stop gender-based violence against journalists

Publisher Article 19
Publication Date 10 April 2013
Cite as Article 19, Bangladesh: Action needed now to stop gender-based violence against journalists, 10 April 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/519dcdd74.html [accessed 31 July 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the government to condemn violence against journalists reporting on demonstrations in the capital, Dhaka. ARTICLE 19 is particularly concerned to note that among those attacked are a number of women journalists, who have been specifically targeted in respect to their gender.

"We condemn attacks against journalists in the name of Islam. These overt and blatant attacks are designed to silence those playing a vital role in spreading information about matter of public importance" said Tahmina Rahman, ARTICLE 19's Director for Bangladesh and South Asia.

"We are particularly concerned to see a wave of violence directed at women journalists. Attacking women because they are speaking out about issues of vital public importance is not only an attack on freedom of expression. It impedes the progress of women in Bangladesh and must be met with an unambiguous response".

ARTICLE 19, monitors the state of freedom of expression in Bangladesh and has recorded increased hostility towards women journalists.

Nadia Sharmin of Ekushey Televsion was attacked by members of the Islamist group Hefajat-e-Islam as she reported on a blockade in the Bijoynagar area of the city on April 6. Before stealing her mobile phone and her handbag, the group taunted her calling 'What are you doing at an Hefajat gathering…? Where is your hijab?' Nadia received treatment at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital for injuries to her head and neck. "I was attacked only because I am a woman" Nadia said.

Nadia is not alone. Zakia Ahmed, a senior reporter for the Banglanews Twentyfour online news service was reprimanded by Hefajat supporters for appearing in public without a head scarf. Arafat Ara, a reporter for Financial Express, was stopped on her way to work by Hefajat activists and asked to cover her head with a scarf, suggesting that this was for her own protection.

A few days earlier, Mashreka Mona of Shomoy TV was struck by a stone directly targeted at her when she was on her way to work. "I saw him taking the stone out of his bag and fearlessly aiming at me" she told ARTICLE 19.

Hefajat activists also attacked at least 11 other journalists, including Khorshed Alam from South Asian TV, Sohel Rana of ATN News and Shujon Mondol, a photographer for the Daily Ittefaq.

ARTICLE 19 expresses solidarity:

With women's groups, activists and journalists in condemning attacks against journalists, including Nadia Sharmin and other women journalists, with the specific intention of preventing them from conducting their public and professional duties.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Government to:

Denounce attacks on the public and professional lives of all women, including women journalists. These attacks are an affront to the spirit of Bangladesh's Constitution, women's rights and international standards on the protection of women and journalists;

Declare a firm commitment to ensure gender equality in devising and implementing public policy, including education.

Urgently initiate investigations into attacks against journalists and bring those responsible to justice.

Copyright notice: Copyright ARTICLE 19

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