Dr Shireen Mazari, Pakistan's Federal Minister for Human Rights Image Credit: Social media

A group of prominent Pakistani female journalists have raised their voice against what they term as “vicious attacks” directed at them through social media, allegedly by people affiliated with the ruling party and it has caused an uproar online.

The statement titled ‘Joint Statement: Attacks on women in media in Pakistan’ read: "Vicious attacks through social media are being directed at women journalists and commentators in Pakistan, making it incredibly difficult for us to carry out our professional duties."

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Sharing the statement, Pakistani journalist Munizae Jahangir, @MunizaeJahangir, tweeted: “Joint statement: We the women in media in Pakistan demand that the government restrain its members from targeting women journalists. Together we stand against harassment and abuse to create a working environment without fear. #AttacksWontSilenceUs.”

#AttacksWontSilenceUs trends

As part of the campaign, the hashtag #AttacksWontSilenceUs was used by female reporters.

In the statement, which is signed by a number of well-known journalists, the women accused several social media accounts “affiliated with the ruling party” of harassing them, leaking their private information, and “morphing” their pictures and videos, amongst other accusations.

The statement also said that reporters who have been critical of the political party currently in power, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), are targeted.

“The target of these attacks is women with differing viewpoints and those whose reports have been critical of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, and more specifically its handling of the coronavirus pandemic,” the statement shared on Twitter read.

“In what is certainly a well-defined and coordinated campaign, personal details of women journalists and analysts have been made public. To further discredit, frighten and intimidate us, we are referred to as peddlers of ‘fake news’, ‘enemy of the people’ and accused of taking bribes (often termed as ‘paid’ journalists or lifafas),” a section of the document read.

Human Rights Minister takes notice

Human Rights Minister of Pakistan, Shireen Mazari, @ShireenMazari1, took notice of the issue and tweeted: “Disturbing to learn of women journalists being targeted and abused. Abusing women because they are critical is never acceptable. Journalists do their job and to target them, especially gender-based abusive attacks on women journos, is absolutely unacceptable and disgusting.”

In a consecutive tweet, she wrote: “Have again requested Information Minister to assist in fast-tracking our Journalist Protection Bill, which is not only an urgent need in Pakistan but an obligation under our Constitution and international law.”

Female reporters part of the campaign have also said that their social media account have been hacked.

Aima Khosa, @aimaMK, posted: “The statement by women journalists is trending, human rights defenders are speaking up and the Human Rights minister has expressed concern. At the same time, someone is trying hard to break into my account. To whoever this is, I have only one thing to say: #AttacksWontSilenceUs”

Another reporter, Benazir Shah, @Benazir_Shah, posted: “Important to stress this - there have been attempts to hack into the social media accounts of women reporters and analysts, as well as limit our access to information. #AttacksWontSilenceUs”