LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Harassment of women reporters covering the World Cup is unacceptable, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists said on Tuesday after a series of on-air incidents, calling it a “time of reckoning”.
The comments came after a series of incidents in which male fans have harassed or assaulted women journalists as they covered the contest, held in Russia and watched by millions around the world.
One reporter was broadcasting live when a fan grabbed her breast before disappearing into the crowd.
“Sadly, these types of assaults are not new, and women covering sports say that harassment is part of their job,” the CPJ’s advocacy director Courtney Radsch told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by email.
“But we are now in a time of reckoning and the message is being sent that such abuse is not acceptable.”
One clip that went viral showed the Brazilian reporter Julia Guimaraes rebuke a man who rushed up to her and kissed her on the cheek, securing an apology after telling him he should “never do this to a woman”.
Days earlier a man accosted Colombian reporter Julieth Gonzalez Theran live on air, kissing her and grabbing her breast.
Gonzalez Theran, who carried on broadcasting for several minutes, called the incident “sad”, but said the reaction of those who tried to trivialize it on social media had been worse.
Women around the world took to social media to talk about their experiences of sexual harassment or abuse last year as part of the #MeToo movement.
In March, a group of women sports reporters in Brazil launched a campaign against sexual harassment by fans and athletes. The #DeixaElaTrabalhar (let her work) campaign highlighted incidents caught on camera as women tried to report.
Sarah Green, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, a lobby group, said the party atmosphere of the World Cup was no excuse for such behavior.
“Women should never have to put up with unwanted touching, no matter whether are at work, at home or out socializing,” she said.
The CPJ said it had worked with football’s governing body FIFA to establish a reporting mechanism for abuses and threats against journalists covering the World Cup.
Reporting by Meka Beresford @mekaberesford, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org