Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad: Local journalist Mahdieh Amiri speaks of the hardships of practicing journalism in the southern Iranian province of Bushehr. Amiri has been working as a journalist in Bushehr for years. Since 2007, she has been the editor-in-chief of a few local websites, biweekly and quarterly magazines. She is now the editor-in-chief of hamooniran.com website and Ava-ye Dashtestan biweekly.
Discrimination against Iranian women journalists- 2
Lady! Don’t travel abroad!31 May 2012
Translated by Rose Arjmand
Khabarnegaran.info-It is not longer than two decades that women journalists were banned from traveling abroad for professional assignments. Following the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the ban on women journalists’ right to go abroad for professional assignments was only one of its kind.
A woman journalizers working the Kayhan Newspaper recalls a story of herself which happened at least 17 years ago. She was a member of a team that was supposed to cover a high ranking Iranian official’s political assignment to a number of countries. For the first time women journalists asked their editors in chief why they could not go on assignments to cover international events.
The editor in chiefs in the Kayhan Newspaper were first shocked and surprised to hear such a suggestion. Them being women was the main excuse the Kayhan Newspaper editors mentioned, wondering: how can a woman be sent on an assignment among so many other men journalists?
The editors in chief of the Kayhan Newspaper came of with an idea to solve this problem. They thought they should have convinced the editors in chief of the Ettela’at Newspaper to send a woman journalist accompanying the Kayhan woman journalist. Their logic suggested at least two women must be in a group keeping each other’s company.
The editor in chief of the Kayhan Newspaper called Mahmoud Doayi the chief executive of the Ettela’at Newspaper to coordinate the plan. They were fully aware that the editor in chief of the Ettela’at does not hold much of responsibilities. Doayi was the main figure in the publishing organization. Fortunately Doayi welcomed the idea. In a rare incident, after the 1979 Revolution in Iran, two Iranian women journalists were sent on an assignment abroad.
Although it was a positive step for Iranian women journalists, sending women journalists on an international assignment is a redline that not every media dares to cross. Reformist newspapers have tried overstep the red-lines. Good number of women journalists were sent abroad to report the latest events across the world during former president Khatami’s reformist administration.
Conservative media are more restrict in this sense. They have their sort of unwritten restrict laws. Rarely we see a woman reporter reporting from abroad for the Iranian state run television.
Following the 1979 revolution, such restrictions are only imposed on international assignments, but also are implemented on national assignments.
One of the Iranian women journalists who spoke to us under the condition of anonymity shared an experience of hers with us: "it was around 1997-1998. I was about to go a free trade zone with a group of reporters. When the then edit in chief of the Hamshahri Newspaper heard about this, he asked if another woman was accompanying me during the assignment."
She recalls: "After he heard I was the only woman in the team, he refused to let me go to the trip. Although I insisted repeatedly, he did not agree."
Nowadays, the restrictions are eased and are mostly on international assignments. However, they never were lifted.
Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad: How is life for Iranian journalists after prison? Does their attitude toward their journalism – the profession that put them in jail – change? Are they more conservative than before? Or bolder?
Khabarnegaran – Niki Azad: He has been put in jail three times for his journalist writing, though he says that jail has not made him feel disappointed with the profession of journalism.