Diversity According to Abraji, 78 episodes of aggression against women journalists were registered in 2021

According to the survey, 62% of the attacks on women journalists occurred while they were covering political issues (Reproduction/ GettyImages)

Priscilla Peixoto – from Cenarium Magazine

MANAUS – According to the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji), from January to December 2021, there were at least 78 different episodes of offenses, aggressions, threats and intimidation against women journalists in the country. The data are from the project ‘Gender Violence Against Journalists’ released on December 20, 2021.

According to the survey, 62% of the attacks on women journalists occurred while the professionals were covering political issues. The Amazon journalist Cynthia Blink is part of the list of professionals who have been disrespected in the course of their professional work. For the journalist, known mainly for covering political issues, the violence between authorities and journalists is constant, and in the case of women, it is almost an attempt to silence and not accept that the female figure is a protagonist even in the labor market.

“With women in particular, we have seen these cases. In other people’s minds we are in a place that is not ours. We were raised to be nice, gentle, to please, and to let the man be the protagonist in everything when you are a journalist, so it is very clear how much the woman is not in the corner, is not quiet, and can be wherever she wants. There are those who don’t accept very well to watch a woman with so much power in a profession like ours, I think that’s where the problem lies”, says Blink.

The data are from the project ‘Gender Violence Against Journalists’ released on December 20, 2021 (Reproduction/Internet)

Attacks and disrespect

In October 2020, Cynthia Blink at a press conference of the vice-governor of Amazonas, Carlos Almeida Filho (PTB), was pushed by Military Police sergeant and security guard of Carlos Almeida, Michele Welche Silva. On the occasion, besides Blink, the journalist specialized in politics Rosiene Carvalho, the reporter Júlia Pereira, and the photojournalist Adriano Santos were also disrespected.

The episode would have occurred soon after Carlos Almeida’s posture in relation to the investigations of fraud and detour of resources in the Amazonas Health Department. In the occasion, Almeida did not answer the questions of the press and only made a 15 minute speech and left the place.

In an interview with CENARIUM, journalist Cynthia Blink said she was injured with a scratch on her right arm and criticized the way the press conference was conducted. “We are journalists, and if we go half a day to the agenda, we obviously want to ask questions. There is no possibility of prohibiting us from asking questions,” the journalist said of what happened.

Besides gender issues, the journalist recalls that the profession, naturally challenging, is disturbing because of the questions and search for answers that answer society’s questions. “Violence has always been present in our midst, we are not there to please anyone, we are not there to fight, but our function is to question, and there are people who don’t like to answer, and that’s fine, but we need to do it”, she highlights.

Cynthia Blink shows the scratch on her right arm and criticized the way the press conference was conducted (Reproduction/Instagram)

More recent case

Another case that also indirectly involved journalist Cynthia Blink was what happened on December 13, 2021, when councilman and former army sergeant Rosinaldo Bual (PMN), who calls himself a ‘Christian’ in social networks, expelled a photographer from the Manaus 360º portal from the gallery of the City Council of Manaus (CMM) who was in full professional practice. Shaken, the reporter preferred not to identify herself and comment on the matter.

To CENARIUM, the executive director of Manaus 360º said that the professional was released from work after the event. According to Cynthia, the photographer was in the CMM Gallery to get images for a reportage of the communication vehicle, when the councilman felt uncomfortable when he realized he was being photographed and went to the woman.

According to Cynthia Blink, the photographer reported that she was escorted by Councilman Rosinaldo Bual and the two servers to the door of the press room. “She was accompanied by reporter Gabriel Veras. I asked him to talk to this councilman, because he couldn’t have done that and I explained that she could stay in the gallery as long as she wanted, because it is a space for anyone to follow the session and there is nothing, in the bylaws, prohibiting the taking of images,” said the journalist.

Other data

In 71.8% of the cases, professionals of the press were the targets of speeches intended to stigmatize the class. Machismo expressions were also part of the research, adding up to 41% of the speeches directed to the professionals. Words like ‘odd jobs’, ‘old’, ‘crazy’, and ‘dumb’ were used against the class in an attempt to silence them.

According to the Annual Report on Violations to Freedom of Expression, conducted by the Brazilian Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters (Abert), released on May 30, 2021, in 2020, of the 94 cases of attacks on the press, 62 of them had the name ‘Bolsonaro’ present.

Also in 2020, according to the report, there were 7,945 per day, or almost six per minute in the virtual sector. On December 1st, 2021, Abraji launched an online platform with “information about the aggressions that victimized female and male communicators based on gender”.

According to the partial data of the study, of the 335 attacks directed to press professionals between January and October 2021, 23.3% used gender, sexuality or sexual orientation as arguments for aggression.

Of these cases, “two episodes victimized media with a feminist bias and five situations of homophobia against communicators. This represents, on average, one attack with gender characteristics every 3.9 days”, informs Abraji.

The SJP/AM is currently working to create, still in the first half of 2022, its Women’s Commission (Reproduction/Esther Vargas)

Union of Journalists of the Amazon

According to information passed on by the Union of Professional Journalists in the State of Amazonas (SJP/AM), in 2021, the Union did not receive reports of aggressions to professional journalists, including student reporters/interns who work in news portals and blogs.

The corporation also highlights elements that contribute to the fact that possible episodes of violence occurring in the professional exercise are not denounced by the victims. The union stresses that it reprehends any type of aggression against women journalists.

“Among them, we highlight the fear of losing their jobs, when they occur in the newsrooms or workplaces, and the difficulty of obtaining evidence, after registering an occurrence report (BO) in the specialized police stations.
The direction of the SJP/AM condemns in every way the violence against women journalists, understanding it as a problem to be overcome by Brazilian society that lives daily with acts of machismo and misogyny, some practiced by ‘co-workers'”, informs the SJP.

Legal Support and Women’s Commissions

In these cases, the union states that, in Amazonas, after the victims denounce the entity, there is the orientation to formalize the denunciation of aggression to the Justice, besides that, the SJP counts with the support of legal counsel for the entrance and follow-up of the cases.

In an interview to CENARIUM, the president of the Union of Professional Journalists of the State of Amazonas and member of the National Federation of Journalists (Fenaj), Wilson Reis, states that he is currently focused on formulating a women’s commission, following the example of other existing unions in the country.

“Besides the legal support, we evaluate as important in the combat to the violence practiced, mainly by men against women in the exercise of their profession, the organization of journalists in internal commissions so that actions can be developed by the entities with the focus of facing and overcoming the problems.

The SJP/AM is currently working to create, still in the first half of 2022, its Women’s Commission, following the example of other national unions of journalists”, he points out.

According to the president of the institution, the methodology of the union differs from the one carried out by Abraji. “I inform that the cases registered nationally in 2021 will be organized after the recess at the beginning of the year. Our methodology is different from Abraji’s, because we receive and register the cases of aggressions that occur during the professional exercise and that hurt the ‘Freedom of the Press'”, concludes the president.