By Reshmi Kaur Oberoi, Women's eNews

(WOMENSENEWS)--The danger and intimidation surrounding female journalists can be told through many individual stories.

One of them belongs to Khadija Ismailova from Azerbaijan.

Opponents of hers placed a camera in her bedroom to record her and her boyfriend having intercourse, said Frank Smyth, senior advisor for journalist security at the Committee to Protect Journalists, in an email. They used the recording "as a cruel and vulgar way to try and intimidate her."

Smyth said that all journalists face the same dangers today, "including intimidation or violence, in direct reprisal for their work."

Female journalists, he said, are frequently victims to "sexual character assassination," verbal and physical defamation based on rumors or situations taken out of context. "More women journalists have been sexually attacked than men."

While the stories of attacks on female journalists are proliferating, the documenting of these safety breaches is missing.

To overcome that lack, the International Women's Media Foundation, in conjunction with the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, initiated a month-long universal survey of female journalists on Aug. 20.

A few days after the survey ended, Elisa Lees Munoz, executive director of the nonprofit organization, was still estimating how many surveys had been turned in. She said the sample size would certainly exceed 500 and could even reach 1,000 respondents.

UNESCO is helping to fund and develop safety training based on the survey responses.

Though the IWMF already provides safety information and training to journalists, the goal of the survey is to assess the changing landscape of security concerns for journalists today. The results of the survey will be used to "better formulate programs that address safety concerns," Munoz said.

Munoz said recent events in the Middle East underscore how female journalists are targeted. "That is not to say that men are not physically attacked, but there are specific ways in which woman are harassed," said Munoz.

Two days after the survey was launched, on Aug. 22, a 22-year-old photojournalist was gang raped while on assignment in Mumbai.

Gerhard Doujak, head of human rights at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, said in an email that crimes against journalists can be compounded for women. "In many countries, reporting and investigating these crimes can prove more difficult due to social, religious or traditional stigmas," Doujak said.

On Aug. 29, in an Op-ed for The Boston Globe, Mumbai-based journalist Priyanka Borpujari described security concerns for female journalists in India and wrote that gender can mask everything else. "Many women realized that the phrase 'I am a journalist' did not feel powerful anymore," she wrote. "The sexist culture of the profession and the nation inhibit their jobs."

Reshmi Kaur Oberoi is an editorial intern with Women's eNews and is a New York-based freelance journalist for various South Asian-American publications. Follow her on Twitter @ReshmiKO.

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  • 1. Iceland

    2012 score: 0.8640 In 2011, Iceland ranked #1 with a score of 0.8530.

  • 2. Finland

    2012 score: 0.8451 In 2011, Finland ranked #3 with a score of 0.8383

  • 3. Norway

    2012 score: 0.8403 In 2011, Norway ranked #2 with a score of 0.8404.

  • 4. Sweden

    2012 score: 0.8159 In 2011, Sweden ranked #4 with a score of 0.8044.

  • 5. Ireland

    2012 score: 0.7839 In 2011, Ireland ranked #5 with a score of 0.7830.

  • 6. New Zealand

    2012 score: 0.7805 In 2011, New Zealand ranked #6 with a score of 0.7810.

  • 7. Denmark

    2012 score: 0.7777 In 2011, Denmark ranked #7 with a score of 0.7778.

  • 8. Philippines

    2012 score: 0.7757 In 2011, the Philippines ranked #8 with a score of 0.7685.

  • 9. Nicaragua

    2012 score: 0.7697 In 2011, Nicaragua ranked #27 with a score of 0.7245.

  • 10. Switzerland

    2012 score: 0.7672 In 2011, Switzerland ranked #10 with a score of 0.7627.

  • 11. Netherlands

    2012 score: 0.7659 In 2012, the Netherlands ranked #15 with a score of 0.7470.

  • 12. Belgium

    2012 score: 0.7652 In 2011, Belgium ranked #13 with a score of 0.7531.

  • 13. Germany

    2012 score: 0.7629 In 2011, Germany ranked #11 with a score of 0.7590.

  • 14. Lesotho

    2012 score: 0.7608 In 2011, Lesotho ranked #9 with a score of 0.7666.

  • 15. Latvia

    2012 score: 0.7572 In 2011, Latvia ranked #19 with a score of 0.7399.

  • 16. South Africa

    2012 score: 0.7496 In 2011, South Africa ranked #14 with a score of 0.7478.

  • 17. Luxembourg

    2012 score: 0.7439 In 2011, Luxembourg was ranked #30 with a score of 0.7216.

  • 18. United Kingdom

    2012 score: 0.7433 In 2011, the United Kingdom ranked #16 with a score of 0.7462.

  • 19. Cuba

    2012 score: 0.7417 In 2011, Cuba was ranked #20 with a score of 0.7394.

  • 20. Austria

    2012 score: 0.7391 In 2011, Austria ranked #34 with a score of 0.7165.

  • 21. Canada

    2012 score: 0.7381 In 2011, Canada ranked #18 with a score of 0.7407.

  • 22. United States

    2012 score: 0.7373 In 2011, the United States ranked #17 with a score of 0.7412.

  • 23. Mozambique

    2012 score: 0.7350 In 2011, Mozambique ranked #26 with a score of 0.7251.

  • 24. Burundi

    2012 score: 0.7338 In 2011, Burundi ranked #24 with a score of 0.7270.

  • 25. Australia

    2012 score: 0.7294 In 2011, Australia ranked #23 with a score of 0.7291.

  • 111. Bahrain

    2012 score: 0.6298 In 2011, Bahrain ranked #110 with a score of 0.6232.

  • 112. Cameroon

    2012 score: 0.6291 In 2011, Cameroon ranked #119 with a score of 0.6073.

  • 113. Fiji

    2012 score: 0.6285 In 2011, Fiji ranked #109 with a score of 0.6255.

  • 114. Zambia

    2012 score: 0.6279 In 2011, Zambia ranked #106 with a score of 0.6300.

  • 115. Qatar

    2012 score: 0.6264 In 2011, Qatar ranked #111 with a score of 0.6230.

  • 116. Guatemala

    2012 score: 0.6260 In 2011, Guatemala ranked #112 with a score of 0.6229.

  • 117. Benin

    2012 score: 0.6258 In 2012, Benin ranked #128 with a score of 0.5832.

  • 118. Ethiopia

    2012 score: 0.6200 In 2011, Ethiopia ranked #116 with a score of 0.6136.

  • 119. Mauritania

    2012 score: 0.6129 In 2011, Mauritania ranked #114 with a score of 0.6164.

  • 120. Algeria

    2012 score: 0.6112 In 2011, Algeria ranked #121 with a score of 0.5991.

  • 121. Jordan

    2012 score: 0.6103 In 2011, Jordan ranked #117 with a score of 0.6117.

  • 122. Lebanon

    2012 score: 0.6030 In 2011, Lebanon ranked #118 with a score of 0.6083.

  • 123. Nepal

    2012 score: 0.6026 In 2011, Nepal ranked #126 with a score of 0.5888.

  • 124. Turkey

    2012 score: 0.6015 In 2011, Turkey ranked #122 with a score of 0.5954.

  • 125. Oman

    2012 score: 0.5986 In 2011, Oman ranked #127 with a score of 0.5873.

  • 126. Egypt

    2012 score: 0.5975 In 2011, Egypt ranked #123 with a score of 0.5933.

  • 127. Iran

    2012 score: 0.5927 In 2011, Iran ranked #125 with a score of 0.5894.

  • 128. Mali

    2012 score: 0.5842 In 2011, Mali ranked #132 with a score of 0.5752.

  • 129. Morocco

    2012 score: 0.5833 In 2011, Morocco ranked #129 with a score of 0.5804.

  • 130. Côte d'Ivoire

    2012 score: 0.5785 In 2011, Côte d'Ivoire ranked #130 with a score of 0.5773.

  • 131. Saudi Arabia

    2012 score: 0.5731 In 2011, Saudi Arabia ranked #131 with a score of 0.5753.

  • 132. Syria

    2012 score: 0.5626 In 2011, Syria ranked #124 with a score of 0.5896.

  • 133. Chad

    2012 score: 0.5594 In 2011, Chad ranked #134 with a score of 0.5334.

  • 134. Pakistan

    2012 score: 0.5478 In 2011, Pakistan ranked #133 with a score of 0.5583.

  • 135. Yemen

    2012 score: 0.5054 In 2011, Yemen ranked #135 with a score of 0.4873.