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    Module 3: Combatting Online Violence Against Women Journalists

    The media, the government, the state, and civil society organisations are struggling to respond effectively to online violence against women journalists. This highlights the urgent need for policy reform and innovative legal, legislative and normative responses, in order to ensure compliance with international human rights law.(1)

    Effectively countering online violence against journalists, particularly women journalists,(2) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is a pressing global issue that demands:

    • Localised;
    • Contextualised;
    • Intersectional; and
    • Practical strategies.

    This module focuses on the practicalities of litigation to protect and defend the rights of women journalists online, providing guidance from the initial phases of consideration of litigation through to the legal requirements. In addition to litigation, this module considers complementary strategies such as advocacy, which can support litigation by building public awareness and support, as well as digital security tactics and tools for victims and survivors of online violence to protect themselves in the digital sphere.(3)

    It is complemented by Module 6 in Media Defence’s Advanced Modules on Digital Rights and Freedom of Expression in sub-Saharan Africa which details how to litigate within several of the key human rights fora on the continent.


      1. UNESCO ‘The Chilling: Global trends in online violence against women journalists’ (2021) (accessible at”). Back
      2. For conciseness, we refer hereafter to “women” to include all those who identify as women and those with marginalised or at-risk identities including members of the LGBTQI community, except where specific instruments or documents referenced refer explicitly to “women” or some other grouping. Back
      3. The terms “victim” and “survivor” may be used interchangeably and refer to those who have experienced GBV and/or OGBV. These terms have different connotations and implications and do not intend to, by any means, impose a definition or response on any persons who have experienced some of the severe violations to their dignity and safety. Back