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Mainstream, VOL LX No 4, New Delhi, January 15, 2022

Continuing online harassment of women journalists - Statement by Editors Guild of India | Jan 11, 2022

Friday 14 January 2022

PRESS STATEMENT

January 11th, 2022

The Editors Guild of India condemns the continuing online harassment of women journalists, which includes targeted and organised online trolling as well as threats of sexual abuse. What is further disturbing is that most of these attacks are targeted at journalists who have been outspokenly critical of the current government and the ruling party, in an effort to silence them under the intimidation of such attacks. This is a travesty of all democratic norms, and in violation of law.

The latest instances of such organised trolling and harassment are revealed by the investigations done by The Wire, which laid bare an extensive and well funded network built around an app, Tek Fog, which steals unused WhatsApp accounts to send out toxic messages to targeted journalists. The purpose of these deeply hurtful messages was to instill fear in them and to prevent them from expressing themselves freely and go about their jobs. According to the reports, several women journalists were subjected to thousands of abusive tweets.

There were also the recent instances of online auction of Muslim women by at least two open source apps on the GitHub platform, which included journalists critical of the government. Though law enforcement agencies have arrested those supposedly behind such apps, there is need for further investigation in order to ensure that all those behind such despicable acts, even beyond those arrested, are brought to justice.

Editors Guild demands that the government takes urgent steps to break and dismantle this misogynistic and abusive digital eco-system, and that thorough investigations are carried out to identify and punish the culprits and entities behind it. Further, given the allegations that there may be the involvement of influential people linked to the ruling party with the app Tek Fog, the Guild demands that the Supreme Court of India takes cognisance of the matter and order a probe into it.

Seema Mustafa, President

Sanjay Kapoor, General Secretary

Anant Nath, Treasurer

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