Online Harassment of Female Journalists in Uganda

In Uganda, female journalists who use digital means to acquire information and report on stories are frequently attacked and harassed for looking into and publishing sensitive material. 

Digital technologies have given journalists new ways to connect and collaborate, journalists also perpetuated the patterns of harassment and abuse that women journalists experience throughout their journalistic operations, in a variety of different digital forms. Numerous female journalists have detailed both physical and online abuse at the hands of coworkers, sources, celebrities, unknown attackers, and complete strangers.

In Uganda, as in many other nations throughout the world, online abuse and harassment has increased in frequency and coordination with a goal to silence, intimidate, and humiliate women journalists, with the possibility to bar them from public places. According to freelance journalist Kate Apiyo, the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and restrictions caused many female journalists to use the internet more, and this, combined with their lack of digital literacy, exposed them to the dangers of gendered cyber abuse.

Some female journalists I spoke to claimed they had experienced a variety of forms of online abuse, such as threats of physical and sexual assault, foul language, harassing private messages, and threats to harm their reputations on both a personal and professional level. These attack strategies are becoming more advanced and changing as a result of technologies like artificial intelligence. Additionally, they are becoming more networked and linked to planned attacks driven by deceptive methods meant to intimidate journalists. According to Apiyo, there is a need for solutions to online violence because many female journalists who suffer harassment online struggle to get their accusations taken seriously and adequately investigated. They also report that they rarely receive justice.


The mentioned injustices and violations have a lot of serious repercussions for the targeted female journalists. Low productivity at work, which may result in redeployment or losing your job, the dissolution of families or marriages, post-traumatic stress disorders, and self-censorship on personal social media spaces and other professional reporting are some of the common effects of online harassment and violence. Other effects include a rise in the likelihood of physical assault, relocation, and giving up the profession of journalism to avoid the violence.

Less women are represented in public and social areas as a result of these attacks making men bloggers and journalists to take over the Ugandan internet news media landscape. This is a serious issue because online platforms give women yet another crucial chance to get their opinions heard in a way that they would not be able to do under the existing systems that have gatekeepers who are primarily male.

Addressing online abuse against women journalists is essential to ensuring the full enjoyment of the right to free expression, and creating an environment where women can participate in online and offline spaces. Media houses owners also ought to support their female staff in fighting this vice.


Ruth Atim

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