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Psychological Risks for Journalists in Yemen While Covering Events

 30 Dec 2021


Journalists in Yemen face many professional, psychological as well as political pressures, when covering the events of the armed conflict, various crises and natural disasters that may occur in some regions of the country. Their media profession ranks among the most complex professions in the world.

Despite the similar risks that either journalists in general may be exposed to in a conflict-torn country such as Yemen, women journalists are the most exposed to these professional risks. That is because of the peculiarity of society in Yemen, which views women as weak, lacking in professionalism and inability to withstand any of the pressures, psychological or political issues that they may face during their media work.

Many Yemeni female journalists in conflict zones have been subjected to painful events such as death threats and verbal and physical assaults by people affiliated with the conflict parties in the country, or even by media institutions they work for. All that may cause them sever psychological harm.

These pressures and psychological risks that female journalists are exposed to, do not prevent them from playing the role of witness to the events, who live the same feelings of fear and despair experienced by victims of war, crises or natural disasters. So, they must maintain their psychological safety while facing any tragic stories.


Regarding the potential psychological crises that female journalists may be exposed to in Yemen, the journalist Abeer Waked said, “I received the last threat during my career in the media field from Al-Qaeda members in 2015, during their control of the areas of the coast of Hadramout.” “At that time, I refrained from writing and stopped writing and media appearances because I was afraid for my life at that time.” She added.

After the liberation of the city of Mukalla from Al-Qaeda, female journalists returned to write, but the fear factor still exists due to some restrictions on freedom of expression and journalists. At that time many professional colleagues were subjected to arbitrary arrests because of their opinions against some of the leaders of the authority, which is one of the reasons that made female journalists falter under those mental pressures.

“Waked” indicated that the fear factor remains to the present time as a result of conflict and war, and it is what brings us into a psychological state and forces us to stay away from writing for fear of ourselves, even if the topics we publish are simple and do not fall within the inflammatory material or hate speech, but it can cause our arrest or make us subjected to violation and the obsession of fear always haunts us.

She explained that she is working on selecting topics well before they are published, because the experiences that she observed on some other female journalists makes her aware that there are violations against female journalists which have made them vulnerable to psychological harm and increased their families’ fears about them.

The journalist Abeer Waked cited the incident of the martyrdom of her colleague, journalist Rasha Al-Harazi, who died on Nov. 9, 2021, as a result of a terrorist bombing she was exposed to in Aden. Abber explained that the incident  shocked her and paralyzed her abilities of expression and writing, noting that this incident established in her mind that journalists had become under imminent danger in a country wracked by wars and where there are no laws to protect journalists. Abeer stressed that it was a severe psychological blow that kept her trapped in a psychological situation for long time.

She pointed out that there are other reasons that make female journalists vulnerable to psychological trauma, namely party affiliations and marginalization that affects them after graduating from universities.

The journalist Ashraf Al-Atab said, “During my work as a female journalist with my husband who works as a photographer, we faced a lot of psychological pressure after we were arrested at the security checkpoints with my husband for a whole day, as we work in the field of journalism only.” “This incident still recurs in our minds and caused we have a lot of fears and worries when we move between regions,” she added.

She explained that the idea of stopping practicing journalism was always repeated to her, due to the turmoil in the country and the lack of awareness of the rights of journalists among the parties to the conflict in the country.

Al-Atab also pointed out that all these obstacles and negatives that she faced and the deteriorating security situation will not deter her from continuing her career, and bypassing all obstacles to preserve her source of livelihood and advocate for the society cases away from the fabricated pressures of the war merchants.



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