Female journalists in Turkey face discrimination and harassment at work, says media association

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Female journalists in Turkey face problems at work, ranging from unequal pay to sexual harassment, most frequently seen in local media outlets, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing the Media Research Association (MEDAR).

According to the report, some of the problems female journalists face are disproportionate workload in comparison to men, workplace bullying, sexual harassment and a lack of job security. Journalists working in local media said they were also under pressure not to criticize the government.

The report said the journalists were expected to self-censor due to political pressure. One anonymous journalist who works in the southern city Adana said there were times when they visited the police station once a week for questioning. She added the pro-government mayor repeatedly filed complaints against them.

Another journalist who worked in the southern city of Mersin said the governor and local police closely followed their newspaper and sent them warnings if they wrote anything critical of the government. “This had become so frequent that after some time we started to self-censor,” she said.

One of the leading jailers of journalists in the world, Turkey was ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in April.

According to the Stockholm Center for Freedom’s “Jailed and Wanted Journalists in Turkey” database, 174 journalists are currently behind bars in Turkey, while 167 are wanted and are either in exile or remain at large.

Other journalists said the industry was very sexist and that there was a widespread view that only men could be journalists. “We are turned down by some media outlets, and they tell us because we are women they cannot send to us to cover the news at night or in unsafe areas,” said one journalist working in the southern city of Antalya.

A journalist working in Ankara said they were confronted with questions concerning their private lives in job interviews. She said if they were married or had children, they were turned down immediately. Maternity leave was also a big problem for employers, according to the women.

According to a report published by the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) and the LGBTI Commission, journalism is a male-dominated area in Turkey. The report said 61 percent of female journalists experienced intimidation and bullying. A majority of female journalists also said marriage and motherhood signaled the end of their careers.

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