Women Journalists: can you dream of rising?

Lata Jain

It was a long wait of nine months. They were being stalked and threatened. For nine long months the stalker was abusing these women journalists over the phone. He used dozens of different SIM cards to call and harass different women of this newspaper. The abusive language and words could shock any senile person “Talk dirty to me, or I will have you kidnapped and raped many times over. Wherever you hide, I shall trace you……………………..

Two Firs filed several rounds to police station. Statements recorded but the stalker was not caught. The women gave the mobile numbers to the police and the service provider. He called at odd hours of the night to an extend that ripples ran down the spine each time the phone bell rang.

This kind of attitude and response is familiar towards women. There is a difference in the women who were involved in the story-women journalist. A remarkable group of dalit and Adivasi women journalist in Uttar Pradesh publish a newspaper Khabar Lahariya in dialects of Hindi .

Khabar Lahariya is a grassroots initiative, it is an eight page weekly newspaper published in four dialects of Hindi across U.P. and Bihar. More than 40 women, mostly from marginalized communities, write, edit, photograph and design the paper. The women have taken charge of what is news and are reporting on real issues of real people.

The stalker continued his harassment and came to the rescue of this women journalist-social media. The ladies finger a web based portal ran their story. The story went viral and UP chief minister reacted. Police woke up and plunge into action.

After reporters of women-run news network “Khabar Lahariya” in Uttar Pradeshs Banda faced months of stalking and harassment by a serial caller, police finally come to their aid – after orders from higher-ups – and the accused has been arrested.

By the standards of today’s decimated industry, newspapers back then were secure and stable and comfortable places to work. But if you were a woman, not so much. Women reporters wrote stories on women’s advances in the workplace that they still didn’t have for themselves.

It’s not all slurs and death threats, of course. A more common experience among women journalists is the subtle sting of sexism — comments that focus on physical appearance rather than professional accomplishment.

Often, female reporters don’t focus on what happens to them because they don’t want to appear weak or whiny or get side-tracked from the main story. Women journalists are scared to reveal the harassment faced by them within their organizations due to the fear of losing their jobs.

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