Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called for the immediate and unconditional release of 27 women journalists currently held in “appalling conditions” around the world.
According to the Paris-based media watchdog’s tally, of the 334 journalists in prison at the end of February, 27 of them were women.
These female journalists are being held by nine countries. Iran and China are the two largest jailers, with seven held in each country.
The 27 detained female journalists are deprived of their freedom “because of what they wrote or because they spoke out courageously,” RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in a statement on March 6.
Deloire added that they are “often the victims of disproportionate and iniquitous sentences,” are “subjected to the most appalling prison conditions, like their male colleagues,” and they are “sometimes also tortured and harassed sexually.”
In Iran, where detainees are “constantly denied proper medical care,” women journalists detained there “often stage dangerous hunger strikes” in protest against prison conditions, RSF said.
It added that several UN reports have confirmed that Iranian female detainees "fall sick more often than male detainees."
“The situation of female detainees is aggravated by the segregation of men and women imposed by Iran’s ultra-conservative society and the traditional hatred toward intellectuals and the Islamic regime’s critics,” the watchdog said.
The seven Iranian female journalists currently detained in Iran include Narges Mohammadi, Hengameh Shahidi, Roya Saberi, Negad Nobakht, Sepideh Moradi, Avisha Jalaledin, and Shima Entesari, according to RSF.
It said besides Iran and China, Turkey continues to detain four women journalists, Saudi Arabia three, Vietnam two, while Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, and Nicaragua are each holding one.