Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of dozens of women journalists who are spending International Women's Day behind bars throughout the world.
With 12 of them currently in Iranian custody, the country is the world’s second biggest jailer of women journalists after China, according to the Paris-based media freedom watchdog.
Of the 550 journalists and media workers who are currently imprisoned worldwide, 73 – more than 13 percent – are women, it said on March 8, adding that the proportion has doubled in the past five years.
“More women are reporting in the field, they are more visible in newsrooms, and they are also more likely to fall victim to relentless persecution in 14 countries around the world, especially China (with 21 women journalists in prison), Iran (12), Belarus (10), Vietnam (4) and Turkey (4),” it said in a statement.
Women journalists have paid the price for being at the front line in the ongoing crisis in Iran, where 11 of them were arrested in the wake of nationwide protests triggered by the September death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of morality police.
Two women journalists, Nilofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, are accused of “propaganda against the system” and “conspiring to act against national security," charges that could carry the death penalty.
RSF also sounded the alarm about the “disappearance” of women journalists from Afghanistan’s media landscape.
The country’s Taliban rulers have recently banned women journalists from interviewing men and from attending press conferences in some provinces, the group said.
Women journalists are also banned from hosting radio or TV shows together with male colleagues, or from receiving male guests, and when are on camera, “they must be covered from head to toe and only their eyes may be seen.”