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.
Female Journalists’ Issues and Concerns26 October 2011
translated by sabiheh jalaj
khabarnegaran.info:Nowadays, issues encountered by Iranian female journalists are not apart from the ones facing other journalists, however, their issues are intertwined and our journalism is full of problems and ill-being."
These words are said by a female journalist in Iran. A young journalist who had been working for many years for newspaper editorials , however, when I asked her to talk about her problems being as a female journalist, she prefers to speak about her experiences rather than her problems , because as she states ," Nowadays, In Iran issues encountering male or female journalists are not apart ," As you know, censorship, absence of freedom, various red-lines, low salaries and wages, lack of entertaining facilities and even the absence of experienced journalists in the press editorials are considered to be issues related to all of us either being a male or female.Also , after the tenth election , during the wave of the arrests , female and male journalists had tasted imprisonment and been arrested , although it is claimed by many people that female journalists had not been sentenced to long term imprisonments as men had, the cost had been really paid by a number of them.
She continues," Being as a female journalist in the social field , what makes my job apart from men’s who work in the same field are some restrictions in entering certain fields. Mostly, when the time comes for submitting jobs in the field of news , men would be provided judicial and military fields , though this is not common, but it was like that in the newspapers where I worked, the editor or the chief clerk believe that men can overcome problems which face them in these fields easier than women."
She speaks about her experiences and says," To be honest with you I worked in the field of military for few times and have seen the male-dominating looks of the field authorities. They treat a female journalist in a tougher way. Sometimes they do not invite them for some of their news events at all, and in some of these fields they have a pejorative view towards women.Many years ago I worked in the field of military at that time they had a scheme for collecting the thugs and gangs of police force, this scheme dragged police force into city districts in order to capture the evils and send them to Kohrizak Prison to be ameliorated.This scheme raised a lot of debate and criticism among us journalists.Female journalists were not taken with them while performing the scheme.One day I said to the newspaper’s public relations officer ," What is this discrimination for? I want to follow news in my field by myself." He answered, " This scheme runs late at night therefore it is not right for women to stay out late ."once I remember the chief clerk asked me to allow one of my male colleagues to cover the news , which at that time had a special value , in order not to miss the news I accepted , though I was against the idea which was unprofessional in my opinion. Sometimes women get their editorial wages later.
She also explains about the differences in wages paid to female and male journalists and says," Actually , I had never been paid less than my mail colleagues, I mean the fixed salaries, but sometimes among my colleagues who are paid wages for editing I had witnessed that men are paid their wages earlier than women. because they believe that men are breadwinners , or in some newspapers they consider a sum of money for men as the right of having a family where women are deprived from that.
She says that the story of paying editorial wages to journalists has always been a sad one and when women are deprived from being paid or be paid later than men makes it mor painful. Number of women who are editors or chief clerks is little. Nowadays, whenever you ask a female journalist to tell you about problems she encounters in editing, she would think for few minutes about your questions , and would give you the answer which you were expecting. Most of the journalists these days are worried about their colleagues in prison, about censorship and lack of freedom, they argue about lack of independent and free media and the lack of professionals in media. Professionals who are at the moment either in prison or excluded from work or exiled. But whenever they find the time to think about themselves they would open their hearts for you.
One of these journalists talks about the unimportance of women’s responsibilities in newspapers and says," This issue has always been a matter of discomfort for me .Female journalists are mostly reporters than being editors or chief clerks.I don’t mean that being a reporter is worthless, on the contrary, the most valuable part in journalism is reporting, but it seems that employers have another point of view and every time they reluctantly assign one or two woman to be an editor or chief clerk and normally social field is the one which has the privilege of having a woman responsible for it. In the newspapers which I worked, ignoring the exceptions in the world of journalism in Iran, women had never been editors or members of editorial board while many of them who are already working in the editing sections of the newspapers regarding their profession are not less than men and are completely in an equal position to them."
I asked , regarding what has been mentioned , has she or any of her female colleagues ever expressed their objection? She answers, " I have objected many times but I received cliche answers, newspaper authorities usually pass this matter with laughter , they believe that being chief services clerk is problematic for women particularly services in the field of politics, and they say that chief services clerk should work on such a page for many hours which is tiduous for women or they give the excuse that women normally because of their role being as a mother and a wife can not work in the newspaper for many hours continuously as an editor or a member of editorial board. these excuses are unacceptable at least for me , since I believe that when a woman accepts such responsibilities surely she had examined her potential and energy before.
I ask this female journalist about her own problems she encounters in her own field of news. She says after a short pause ," Usually in Iran it is harder for women to work in the fields of news than men. In these fields women are threatened many times such as being questioned , or confronted for their type of clothing. Parliament journalists or judicial fields have been constantly forced to wear special costumes , but still they remain active and these restrictions would not force them to quit their jobs."
One of the young journalists who has a long experience in working for a civic field also talks about some discrimination which prevent women from progressing in their profession. " I always knew that the highest position I would reach in my job is to become an editor of a group and not more than that. In places where I worked as a journalist which were mostly news agencies it was impossible to assign women for higher positions ." She refers to the period she worked during Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad’s municipality which was a hard job for women to be present and work in those environments.
I ask her for more explanation , she says, " I don’t mean that it was forbidden to work at that period or to follow the topics but in any case men were treated in a much better way." According to this journalist ,also in the second Town and Village Council of Tehran when Abadegan Group ( Inhabiting Group ) was selected sensitivity towards female journalists became more to the extent that even if her colleagues had no particular problem about their hijab ( hair coverage ) they were ill treated in the news fields and the chairman of the council used to call the head of the public relations office to warn female journalists about their hijab through him. However, this journalist stresses on that she had never missed an event or new topic in her news field although she is a female . She also refers to the unconventional clashed committed by the authorities against female journalists " There were always people who wanted to get closer to the female journalists beyond the limits of their job but I usually stood against these behaviors .
Another female journalist who has experience in the field of journalism for many years but nowadays does not work for any editorial section of any newspaper, and follows her media activities through other ways , talks about her experiences," Sometimes I used to work in the editorial section like any other man till late at night but vey often the editor or editorial board members looked at me in a strange way and sometimes they used to ask me why do I spend all that time working in the newspaper and do not care about my family, as if, time and energy I used to spend for the newspaper was annoying for them and it was preferable for them I leave the newspaper on time. "
She continues ," the newspapers of that period , which were affiliated to the government or semi affiliated used to provide facilities for the journalists from mortgage to all other types of facilities such as buying cars and ......, however, I was deprived of that and these facilities did not belong to women. My female colleagues and I objected many times against this discrimination but that was useless . Facilities belonged to men only."
This journalist believes that , in fields like army, Iranian revolutionary guards, judiciary forces and police forces women’s presence is usually less in the news field and some of the authorities in those fields prefer not to hire female journalists. "I can never forget my colleagues who died in C130 crash where many of them had gone to Chabahar to cover a military maneuver and were all killed in that aeroplane ,no female journalist was with them, not because women did not volunteer but because women were not accepted to be taken to cover a military maneuver news . This was the reason why no female journalist was killed in that painful accident , here I can say that luckily no female journalists were taken with them. "
Women’s news are being ignored
Another female journalist which I’m talking to is a reporter who has been working for many years in the field of women’s affairs . She ignores her problems and refers to women’s field," Honestly, I have never thought about myself , being as a female journalist I also have my problems like all other journalists in Iran. Problems being created by government restrictions which made me create mental censorship for myslf . However my issue is different ,I’m concerned with women and their news which has always been neglected in the newspapers if even the newspapers are so-called to be liberal and reformist which nowadays are reducing in number in our country.
She talks about the problems of reflecting women’s news in newspapers and says," The domination of male decision in women’s field is obvious and does not tolerate any criticism.
According to her," although female journalists have tasted censorship and irony, they never feel disappointed due to their passion towards their profession. It is enough to work on a report about a feminist topic in tandem then objections would rise from everyone, the chief clerk to the editor would ask what’s the matter the whole newspaper is filled with feminism and women news . While you can see that the issue you are following up and writing a report about has more reporting value than any other current topic in the newspapers and then you would be charged of being extremist and anti-male."
This female journalist complains of the lack of news about women in the newspapers while the news should have been given more value than any other in the newspapers,but because of the patriarchal mentality of the managers they have been neglected.
Another female journalist who writes articles for a local newspaper , also writes about these issues in her web log under the name of Byrami," Finding a female journalist in the field of feminism is like finding a precious stone. However, there is a large regiment of female journalists who merely write reports about men’s world starting from economy to politics and sports.
Women can hardly occupy positions in the editorial board of publications, therefore , press key analysis which is controlled by editorial board would be kept in the hands of the manager and the empty place of women’s pen is felt .
Women are requested to write news and reports only which means that the headlines and daily analysis whether political, economic, industrial or even sports would be under the control of men ."
In her web log she stresses on that, " lack of a specific column and a specific press, is not the only issue for women. Due to some reasons women’s news are considered to be red-lines for many publications and are not published correctly. Issues such as violence against women, sexual harassment , and... are stereotyped and technical terms for women’s rights such as blood money, inheritance and custody ..... though being surveyed , would remain as a term, statistics are not true.Women’s movements are not reflected truly even on a day like March 8 ( which is an International Women’s Day ) or are published as a short news. Lectures in the fields of women’s affairs are not published unless they are censored or are reflected shortly and precisely in a conservative way.
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