Indian Journalists Union (IJU) has urged the government to eliminate violence against women and girls by ratifying the ILO Convention 190 on harassment and violence in the places of work.

The IJU on Wednesday joined the International Federation of Journalists’ call on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and girls to all governments, including India, to act responsibly to eradicate violence against women by ratifying the ILO Convention 190.

The journalists’ body urged the social media platforms to introduce binding steps to act against online violence, as an IFJ survey revealed that 48% of women journalists claimed they have faced gender-based violence in their work and 44% have faced online abuse.

So far only Uruguay, Fiji and Argentina have ratified the ILO convention.

The IJU president and former Press Council member Geetartha Pathak and secretary-general and IFJ vice-president Sabina Inderjit urged the Narendra Modi government to give confidence to women about its commitment towards their safety and well-being, by signing the Convention.

As suggested by IFJ, the union shall join forces with trade union movement, to force governments to take concrete steps towards ratification, the IJU said in a press statement.

The IJU also called upon women journalists to come forward and file complaints against gender-based violence as sadly according to the IFJ survey about 2/3rd of those who suffered such violence didn’t make a complaint.

Of those who did complain, 85% didn’t believe adequate steps had been taken against the perpetrators.

“The results also showed that only 1 in 5 workplaces had adopted a policy covering gender-based violence and sexual harassment,” it said.

“The fight against gender-based violence at work must be backed by solid policies and procedures that punish women’s attackers and send a clear message that there is a zero-tolerance on gender-based violence in newsrooms,” IFJ Gender Council chair Maria Angeles Samperio said in a statement.

The ILO Convention outlaws violence against women at work, including online abuse, and makes it a health and safety issue.

Once ratified by a country it obliges media employers to ensure a safe workplace and provide a solid mechanism for women journalists to lodge complaints and be protected when subject to abuse.

The IFJ warned against any pervasive effect of online abuse against women journalists’ freedom of speech, well-being and media pluralism.

Online abuse can take different forms from account impersonation to stalking, sharing of personal details, non-consensual pornography, hate speech and misogynistic comments on social media.

Social media platforms must take immediate steps to ban sexists, racists and abusive comments on their platforms, IFJ said.

The IFJ’s Gender Council has put together a list of 8 tips that can be followed by social media platforms to make a change.

It recommends in particular that social media platforms develop security and privacy tools such as blocking, muting and content filtering.

“Social media staff must also be trained on how to best identify misogynic and abusive comments and notice and take down measures should be implemented immediately,” IJU further stated.

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