According to the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, the Dutch government should draw up a policy to specifically protect women and experts in the media. The safety of journalists and politicians is high on the agenda, but sufficient attention for these two groups is still lacking. That is what the Institute states in the annual report published on Wednesday human rights in the Netherlands in 2021

    The specific policy would be necessary because, according to the Institute, the public debate has become increasingly unsafe in the past year. Journalists and others who contribute to the media are more likely to experience intimidation and even aggression. Women are particularly often targeted, the Institute concludes on the basis of various studies and existing political discussions.

    The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights has, among other things, obtained a study by PersVeilig (pdf) at. In 2017, 61 percent of the 638 participating journalists said they had experienced some form of aggression or threat. In 2021 this was 82 percent of 689 polled journalists. A survey by ScienceGuide shows that 43 percent of the participating Dutch scientists have been verbally abused, threatened or otherwise intimidated in the past five years after a public performance.

    Corona measures

    In particular, the fight against the corona pandemic and the division about government measures are said to have contributed to the increase in the number of incidents. But also reports on nitrogen policy and the Zwarte Piet discussion were repeatedly followed by intimidation and aggression.

    The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights states that personal characteristics such as gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background and religion can determine who is more or less exposed to intimidation or aggression. Women who express themselves via social media, in particular, have been found to experience “sexist and degrading comments, intimidation and threats of sexual violence” more often than not. That is why the Dutch government must pay specific attention to policies to protect women in the media.

    According to the Institute, social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook must also ensure a safer online environment by tackling hate speech or calls for violence. However, they must prevent freedom of expression from being jeopardized as a result, according to the Institute.

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