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Rise in Discrimination Against Iraqi Women Journalists

Saturday 25 May 2019, by Iraqi Women Journalists Forum

According to the indicators that Iraqi women journalists forum (IWJF) recorded in the period of May, 2018 – May, 2019, there were many violations, discrimination and violence against women journalists. IWJF recorded the beating and threat against a group of women journalists from different cities of Iraq, in addition to the discrimination and exclusion on the basis of gender, which most journalists suffer from their institutions.

Several complaints were received by the Legal Clinic of the IWJF, in particular cases of harassment and extortion, reflecting a weak implementation of the law and the absence of a successful legislative environment that provides protection for workers in the field of media.

The following are the most prominent cases monitored by the IWJF:

  • The Journalist Intdhar AlSultani, who works in the media office in the municipality of Hilla in Babil province was threatened repeatedly because she revealed files of financial and administrative corruption. She was beaten by a group of people, and now she suffers from coma and loss of consciousness.
  • The media journalist Alaa Jalal Al-Mahdawi was harassed by the police of Diyala governornate because she is a community activist. She had the courage to reveal and highlight a number of violations of the displaced people rights. She lost her job since August, 2018 because she was afraid from the threats from the persons who are politically influential in Diala province.
  • On October 6th, 2018, the radio announcer of Radio Al-Diwaniyah Asma Al-Oussi was fired by the director of the radio station because she revealed files of corruption. She was later referred to the judiciary for covering a demonstration by lawyers in the city of Diwaniyah. A court order was issued for a one-year suspended sentence, with charge of libel and defamation directed to the judiciary.
  • In December 2018, media journalist Sahar Abbas Jameel, who works for the (dijlah TV channel), was threatened with death as a result of her work on a political program that hosts political analysts who are bold and frank.
  • In December 2019, the journalist Assal al-Qaisi, who works with the Huna Baghdad channel, was beaten by a clan and besieged in the building of her organization.
  • Since December 2018 till now, Batoul Hassan has been subjected to a malicious and fake campaign on social networking sites through fake pages bearing her name encouraging sectarianism and violence.
  • The media journalists in Karbala governorate have been subjected to discrimination based on gender in the granting of security declaration identities (identities of the governorate), which allow journalists to photograph in cases of curfew and licensing access to the old city. The official authorities settle for granting three identities to women journalists out of 245 identity granted to men, as well as their exposure to gender discrimination in access to information.
  • No woman assumes the position of undersecretary at the Ministry of Culture.
  • No women achieved the quota in the formation of Board of Trustees of the Iraqi Media Network which ensures a third for women according to the law of the network.
  • So far, the Media and Communications Commission has no women in the board of trustees.
  • In July 2018, the Media Forum monitored the blocking of Internet services in most of the country’s governorates. This decision, considered as a violation of the rights guaranteed by the Iraqi constitution, and human rights conventions to obtain information and freedom of expression. It also halted the work of thousands of journalists. This situation confused the work of local and international media institutions to follow up the Iraqi affairs.
  • In spite of the high rates of violence against workers in the media of both sexes, no law has been passed in favor of the media and freedom of expression in the field of legislation over the past year. The Freedom of Demonstration and Peaceful Assembly Law is still in the corridors of Parliament. In addition, the workers in the media were surprised by the draft law of information crimes in the Iraqi Parliament in April 2019. The draft law contains a content that threatens freedom of expression and undermines it for the purpose of protecting influential corrupt people from criticism and exposing corruption files to public opinion.