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The Chilling: Global Trends in Online Violence Against Women Journalists; Research Discussion Paper
Place of publication | Year of publication | Collation: 
Paris | 2021 | 94 p.
Julie Posetti; Nabeelah Shabbir; Diana Maynard; Kalina Bontcheva; Nermine Aboulez
Corporate author: 
© UNESCO 2021

This report demonstrates that online violence against women journalists is a global phenomenon, albeit one with uneven impacts that are heightened at various intersectional points, including racism, religious bigotry, sectarianism, homophobia and disinformation. There is a climate of impunity surrounding online attacks on women journalists which must be more urgently and effectively addressed because impunity emboldens the perpetrators, demoralises the victim, erodes the foundations of journalism, and undermines freedom of expression. For too long, the emphasis has been on making women journalists responsible for their own defence and protection, rather than making the perpetrators and instigators, the platform enablers, and law enforcement and media employers accountable.

These methods of attack are growing more sophisticated, and they are evolving with technology. They are also increasingly networked and fuelled by political actors. This points to the need for responses to online violence to grow equally in technological sophistication and collaborative coordination. Another point highlighted by this research: most women journalists do not report or make public the online attacks they experience, in line with low levels of reporting when it comes to violence against women more broadly. Many media employers still appear reluctant to take online violence seriously. This aligns with the evident failure of the internet communications companies - whose social networks, messaging and search services facilitate much of the harassment, intimidation, abuse and threats targeting women journalists - to take effective action to address this freedom of expression and gender equality crisis.


Resource Type: 
Case studies and research papers
Human rights / Human dignity
Preventing violent extremism
Social justice / Equity
Level of education: 


Online violence; Disinformation; Women journalists; Freedom of expression; Social media