The IPI global network condemns the online campaign by pro-government supporters and trolls against Pakistani journalist Javeria Siddique. The Pakistani government must denounce these attacks and call on its supporters to end them. Authorities must ensure that all journalists are able to carry out their work without fear of harassment or threats.
Javeria Siddique has been the subject of an online trolling campaign since February 8, according to the Pakistan Press Foundation. Following the death of her husband Arshad Sharif, a Pakistani journalist who was killed by law enforcement in Kenya in October 2022 after fleeing Pakistan due to threats to his life, Siddique resumed her work as a freelance journalist based in Pakistan. She has faced repeated attacks and threats on social media and describes the personal attacks against her as “character assassination.” According to the Coalition For Women In Journalism, the attacks, which are being promulgated by pro-government voices, are an attempt to end Siddique’s efforts to secure justice for her late husband. Siddique has filed a police complaint.
“Globally, women journalists face considerable offline and online attacks and are subject to gendered threats meant to intimidate and discredit them”, IPI Director of Advocacy Amy Brouillette said. “Attacks against women journalists are unfortunately common in Pakistan, and these attacks risk silencing the important work that women journalists in the country are doing.
The government is responsible for ensuring an equitable environment in which all journalists can carry out their work without fear of harassment and threats. Online platforms must also ensure that they do not aid hate campaigns to silence journalists.”
At least 13 journalists experienced physical, verbal or online attacks in Pakistan between April and September 2022 alone, according to IPI monitoring. These include occurrences of death threats, physical assaults, and online campaigns of insults and threats typically directed against women journalists.