According to the annual report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published on December 16, the proportion of women journalists murdered or imprisoned in the world, which points to a greater presence of women in the profession, but also to the fact that in some countries they are targeted particular of dictatorial regimes.
“In some countries they have been prominent figures in the response, as is the case of Belarus, where there are more women journalists detained than men,” RSF secretary general Christophe Deloire told Efe.
The world’s prisons house 60 detained female journalists, the highest number ever recorded by RSF, out of the total of 488 reporters behind bars, representing 12.3% of the total.
Four years ago, the number of imprisoned women journalists was barely 6.6% of the total.
The figure has increased by a third over the previous year, compared to a 19% rise among men.
The year 2021 marked a record for the number of journalists arrested, but a record low of those killed, 46, of which only 4 were women, 9%, double the previous year and the highest percentage since 2017.
They are the Afghans Shahnaz Roufi, Saidia Sadat and Mursal Vahidi, killed in two attacks claimed by the Islamic State, in addition to the Yemeni Rasha Abdallah Alharazy, who died in the deflagration of a car bomb in Aden.
Deloire highlighted the special case of Belarus, where the repression of the press that followed the contested election of the president, Alexandr Lukashenko, especially targeted women.
Seventeen are in the prisons of the Minsk regime, compared to 15 men, although RSF specified that eight of them did not carry out information work in the media in which they worked.
Of the 20 professional journalists detained in Belarus, nine are women.
“These figures are symptomatic of the end of the traditional patriarchal tolerance of the Belarusian authorities, outweighed by the preponderant role of women in post-electoral movements,” said RSF.
The first Belarusian journalists to be convicted by criminal justice were two women, Daria Tchoultsova and Katsiarina Andreyeva, reporters for the Polish-based independent channel Belsat.
They were sentenced to two years in prison for organizing violent actions, after having covered unauthorized demonstrations live.
China, the world’s largest prison for journalists, is also for women, with 19, three of them in Hong Kong.
The situation of journalists is also serious in Burma, where there are 9 reporters behind bars, out of the total of 53 detained, within the increase in repression of information that followed the return of the Military Junta to power.
According to the annual report of Reporters Without Borders, fewer reporters have died in 2021, but the number of incarcerations has grown.
The balance sheet is sad for the informants./cc pic.twitter.com/BLVEXCgfBY
— DW Español (@dw_espanol) December 16, 2021
Critical situation in Mexico
For the third consecutive year, Mexico became the country where the most journalists were killed, according to RSF’s annual report, whose secretary general considered the situation of the press in that country a “hecatomb” and asked the authorities for radical measures to put an end to it.
“What happens in Mexico is terrifying, it is once again the country with the most deaths in a year, although it is a country in theory at peace,” Deloire explained to Efe, coinciding with the publication this Thursday of its annual balance.
“Journalists who investigate drug trafficking, the underworld of a corrupt political class, are killed more often than in other countries. It’s sinister, ”he added.
Throughout 2021 seven journalists were killed in Mexico, bringing the number of victims to 47 in the last five years. Fredy López Arévalo, Manuel González Reyes, Jacinto Romero Flores, Ricardo López Domínguez, Saúl Tijerina Renteria, Gustavo Sánchez Cabrera and Benjamín Morales Hernández joined the casualty list this year.
RSF focused on Sonora, a state “gangrenous by armed groups and drug trafficking” where two reporters disappeared and two others were murdered.
Deloire directly targeted local authorities, whom it accused of not doing enough to stop the bleeding.
He recalled that they filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity during the terms of the two previous Mexican presidents, but pointed out that the current one, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, “has not managed to improve the situation.”
“Mexico has official bodies for the protection of journalists, either with active measures or through a special Prosecutor’s Office for crimes against them. But in reality it is just a large, very ineffective bureaucracy (…) that gets used to this situation and does little to avoid it, ”he lamented.
In addition to appealing to the authorities, Deloire launched an appeal to the country’s mainstream media and journalists who work in less dangerous areas to show solidarity with those who work in the most risky states.
“They need your solidarity. It is time for there to be a mobilization of all Mexican journalists in favor of those who are at risk, ”said the head of RSF.
Deloire indicated that the situation of the press in Mexico prevents the country from facing the problem it has with violence.
“They will not end their endemic violence if they do not stop the violence against journalists, because it is the journalists with their investigations who will be able to allow other measures to be taken,” he said.