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February 19, 2024 - Comments Off on Demanding Accountability, Transparency, and Support for Domestic Violence survivors/victims in the Media Industry

Demanding Accountability, Transparency, and Support for Domestic Violence survivors/victims in the Media Industry


PAKISTAN: The Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights (NWDJR) is not only deeply concerned but fiercely angered at yet another instance of brutal domestic violence by the male members of the journalist community. This time, the alleged perpetrator is an influential media person, an ARY anchor named Ashfaque Ishaq Satti. 


Enough is enough; we are appalled at the criminal justice systems and institutions permeated with patriarchy that condone violence against women, dismissing it as a mere “personal or private dispute.” Domestic violence is criminalised in Pakistan under the Domestic Violence (Protection and Prevention) Act 2020. Additionally, the dignity of an individual is a fundamental right protected in the Constitution of Pakistan, and dismissing it as “a personal” matter is incongruous when the law specifically safeguards it as a human right. Domestic violence is the result of deep-rooted political structures and power dynamics that are intrinsically oppressive and patriarchal. We strongly believe that the personal is political, and for women, the challenges they face in their personal lives--the double shift due to inequitable distribution of care and domestic work, violence within the home, harassment in work and public places, online abuse directed at them--impacts and often puts their lives in danger. 


We have not forgotten the murder of Shaheena Shaheen at the hands of her husband, another perpetrator from the media fraternity. NWJDR has also received individual testimonies from its members of women journalists who are facing severe domestic abuse and violence from their partners who are also part of the media industry, and holding influential positions. Through the countless testimonies we have received, we foresee a new and dangerous trend of male journalists perpetrating violence in their relationships, highlighting a bleak picture that needs urgent action. 


As reported by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in 2020, over 90% of Pakistani women have faced domestic violence in their lifetime. According to a media report in Express Tribune in 2022, “data released under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013, cases of domestic violence saw an increase in the last five years. Same is the situation in courts; an estimated forty percent of cases in courts are family cases, and the remaining sixty percent involve crimes like murder, kidnapping and theft. For example, if a court has 150 total cases for hearing, at least eighty-five cases are family cases, mainly of violence”. How many more women will have to become victims of domestic abuse for it to be taken seriously? 


Domestic violence is often an underreported crime due to the stigma surrounding it and because of the lack of accessibility to complaint mechanisms for victims. Women are not believed; even when they provide evidence of abuse there is a hue and cry on how there are “two sides” to the story. How men use influence in cases of domestic violence to evade accountability and impunity is not uncommon. Law enforcement agencies, including the police, also force the survivors of abuse to reach a settlement outside the court, again reiterating how a “private” matter should remain within the confines of the house and associating ‘family honor’ with a woman’s dignity and identity. 


The concerns that women face should be taken seriously and acted upon, and in cases where male journalists are involved, media outlets as well as the government must respond immediately to ensure that influence is not exercised to evade legal action.  State inaction sends a message to women that they are on their own and in the long term discourages them from speaking up against abuse and filing a complaint. The challenges that women face before they actually speak up are already humongous; from living in close proximity with the perpetrators who are constantly surveilling their physical movement and devices to going back to the same house after registering a complaint can cost women their lives.  


Additionally NWJDR acknowledges and appreciates the step taken by ARY Management to immediately suspend Ashfaq Satti till the law takes its course and decides the matter. It is a promising step on how our society should have zero tolerance for violence against women. However, a lot more needs to be done before to prevent the menace of domestic violence in our country.


We, the undersigned, demand the following:


  1. We call upon media outlets to thoroughly investigate allegations against their personnel and take prompt and decisive action against individuals found guilty of domestic violence. Media organizations must not shield perpetrators and should instead prioritize the safety and well-being of women who are subjected to human rights abuses.
  2. We urge law enforcement agencies, especially the police, to handle cases of domestic violence with the seriousness they deserve. Survivor complaints should be thoroughly and impartially investigated, and survivors should not be coerced into settling outside the court. The police should actively pursue legal action against perpetrators, ensuring that the law is applied without influence or bias.
  3. We call upon the National Commission of Human Rights (NCHR) to proactively intervene in cases of domestic violence, particularly those involving perpetrators from the media industry. This includes conducting independent investigations into reported incidents, ensuring the protection of survivors, and holding perpetrators accountable under the law.
  4. We urge press clubs and journalist unions to actively condemn such grave incidents and avoid using their influence to silence or pressure women survivors of domestic violence to save male members of the media fraternity. These organizations must prioritize the safety and well-being of their members over protecting individuals accused of such heinous acts.
  5. Domestic abuse leaves a lasting impact on mental health and well being of the victim. The government must provide free psychological assistance to the victims.
  6. Healthcare in Pakistan is not easy and free to obtain especially when a case has been registered with the police. The government must ensure setting up sections in hospitals where victims are provided with free medical treatment.



  Name Organization Location
1 Bushra Iqbal Multimedia Journalist Islamabad
2 Laiba Zainab The Current Lahore
3 Madiha Abid Ali Anchor Person  PTV News Islamabad
4 Khalida Niaz sub editor TNN Peshawar
5 Lubna Jerar Naqvi Freelance Journalist Karachi
6 Zeenat Bibi Freelance  Journalist Peshawar
7 Asma Sherazi Senior Anchor, journalist Islamabad
8 Zainab Durrani Senior Program Manager DRF  
9 Xari Jalil Editor/Co-founder, Voicepk Lahore
10 Afshan Mansab Native media Lahore
11 Saddia Mazhar DW Urdu  
12 Umaima Ahmed Global Voices Lahore
13 Mahwish Fakhar Dawn TV Islamabad
14 Saeeda Salarzai Freelance  
15 Unbreen Fatima Freelance Journalist Karachi
16 Fozia Ghani Freelance Lahore
17 Ayesha Saghir Express News Lahore
18 Fahmidah Yousfi Rava Documentary Karachi
19 Salma jehangir TNN Peshawar
20 Sheeama Siddiqui Geo Karachi
21 Pernia Khan Freelance Lahore
22 Mahjabeen abid Pakistan Television Multan
23 Tanzeela Mazhar GTV Islamabad
24 Tayyaba Nisar Khan PTV World Islamabad
25 Ayesha Khalid Comms Manager, Media Matters for Democracy  
26 Rabia Mushtaq Karachi
27 Afia Salam  Environmental journalist Karachi
28 Fatima Razzaq, Journalist, CEO Lok Sujag  
29 Samina Chaudhary APP Islamabad
30 Tehreem Azeem Freelance Lahore
31 Bilal Azmat SM Executive   Dawn    Islamabad
32 Bushra Pasha DW Karachi
33 Moazzam Bhatti Freelance journalist Islamabad
34 Zoya Anwer, Freelance Journalist  
35 Miranda Husain, Editor and Journalist Lahore
36 Fauzia Kalsoom Rana Founder and Convenor Women journalists Association of Pakistan WJAP Islamabad
37 Islam Gul Afridi Correspondent,Special broadcasting Services Peshawar
38 Dr. Rabia Noor ARY News Lahore
39 Sanam junejo APP Islamabad
40 Nabila Feroz Bhatti Freelance Journalist Lahore
41 Asma Kundi,  
42 Maryam Nawaz Geo news Islamabad
43 Xari Jalil Lahore
44 Sabahat Khan Freelance Islamabad
45 Sarah B. Haider Freelance journalist Islamabad
46 Mahnoor shakeel Freelance journalist Mardan
47 Ambreen Sikander GTV News Karachi
48 ShaziaMehboob Tribune Islamabad
49 Aneela Ashraf Freelance Journalist & Founder Journalists Save Movement Multan
50 Sumeira Ashraf Head of assignment and planning at 24 news HD Islamabad
51 Shawaiz Tahir Samaa Tv Islamabad
52 Beena Sarwar Founder Editor, Sapan News Network Boston
53 Ali Jabir Malik Reporter, APP                                         Islamabad 
54 Haya Fatima Iqbal Co Founder, Documentary Association of Pakistan  
55 Syeda Mehr Mustafa Freelancer  
56 Zeenat Shehzadi Investigative Journalist  
57 Zunaira Rafi We News Urdu  
58 Sophia Siddiqui Chief Editor Glory Magazine Islamabad
59 Maryam Saeed Editor Digital 50.50 Digital Rights Foundation  
60 Mehr F Husain Editor, The Friday Times/ Publisher, ZUKA Lahore/Dubai
61 Kainat Malik Chief Editor Jamal e jahan Rajanpur
62 Wajeeha aslam Samaa news manager special project Lahore
63 Rabia Anum Tv Host  
64 Marian Sharaf Joseph Freelance Journalist Lahore
65 Ismat Jabeen DW Correspondent Islamabad
66 Shinza nawaz PTV Islamabad
67 Ali Tanoli Geo News Islamabad
68 Nadir Guramani Anchor, journalist, Dawn news Islamabad
69 Qurrat ul Ain Shirazi Roving CorrespondentThe Independent Urdu Islamabad
70 Fatima Ali Correspondent Independent Urdu Lahore
71 Fauzia Yazdani    
72 Beenish Javed Freelance journalist Islamabad /Berlin
73 Jamaima Afridi Freelance Journalist  
74 Asad Ali Toor freelance journalist  
75 Arifa Noor Dawn tv Islamabad
76 Sabah Bano Malik Freelance journalist, Radio Host CityFM89 Karachi
77 Haroon Rasheed Indy Urdu  
78 Mehmal Sarfraz Journalist Lahore
79 Naheed jehangir Assistant media manager lady Reading Hospital Peshawar
80 Maryam Zia Anchor, PTV World  
81 Muhammad Faheem Mashriq Peshawar
82 Anam Baloch Comms Manager, Digital Rights Foundation Lahore
83 Sualeha Qureshi Director, Soch Media Karachi


Published by: Digital Rights Foundation in Statement

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