With multiple movies and awards to her acclaim, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy recently took to Instagram to announc the release of her new short film, Women in Media. The film is a part of her ongoing project called “White in the Flag” that aims to highlight the “stories of marginalized communities of Pakistan with the help of films and podcasts.” Women in Media follows three veteran female Pakistani journalists as they document the struggles they faced when they joined the otherwise male dominated field.
The short film is only 9 minutes long but is a harrowing depiction of physical, verbal and even sexual harassment that these women have had to face as a price for their success.
19 seconds into the film, viewers are alerted that the film is not a happy one. The white text on the black screen reads “according to the International Federation of Journalists, almost one in two female journalists in Pakistan have experienced gender based violence in the course of their work.” The film then introduces us to three female journalists, Farzana Ali who is the first female Bureau Chief for Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Tanzeela Mazhar and Farhat Javed who have 18 and 8 years of experience in the field respectively. Each of them talks about the struggles they have faced being a female journalist.
Farzana Ali talks about how harassment can be a graze on your body as you walk on the street. She also mentions how male colleagues slander successful women’s name, accusing them of gaining success through unethical ways as a way of exploiting younger and ambitious women in the field. Mazhar talked about the sexual harassment she faced by her own boss and how she was punished for speaking up about it. Javed talks about the verbal abuse women have to face online from rape threats to threats about acid attacks and how they become immune to it, which she calls dangerous.
The film ends with a feature of images of female journalists who have been killed or kidnapped as a consequence of joining the profession they loved.