ECPMF: Please describe the gender-based violence and abuse that you have experienced as a result of your journalistic work, and cite examples.
I have experience as journalist in different countries, as Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Lebanon, Spain or The Netherlands. I did have to deal with gender discrimination and “positive discrimination”. For example, they refused to give me an interview because I am a woman. This happened to me especially in Arab countries. On other occasions, I could get interviews, testimonies or the information I needed just because I am a woman.
I remember when one of my male colleagues called a spokesperson of a Ministry and he told him “I don’t have any information now”. But in that exact moment, I called and suddenly the answer was “yes, of course, I will check for you everything you need”.
I also received death threats because I wrote a few articles about homosexuality and Islam, women’s rights and freedom, and equality of religions. Radicals, from both sides, have threatened me. As I am originally from Morocco, many automatically think that I am Muslim: for Muslim radicals, and Muslim haters alike. I also received threats from homophobic people. Because of my Arab name, I was even insulted by European extremists, for whom I am just an oppressed woman.
What effect did the abuse have on you in terms of your physical and psychological wellbeing?
Luckily, I did not experience any physical effects, but I had colleagues who did. Psychologically I experienced anger at the beginning, frustration after, oppression, and yes, it is very very sad when you should learn how to deal differently with the world, just because you are a woman. So, at the end you just start to become paranoid. When I was working in sensitive territories, like Egypt, I reached a level in which I could not differentiate between sexual harassment and kind behaviour. You mistrust every man who talks to you, who asks you something. And also I stopped going to some places like Tahrir square, or sharing an elevator with a man, just because I didn’t know what could happen. After a life fighting gender discrimination, I found myself needing a man to go out, or to take me back home, because I did not feel safe by myself.