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Watchdog Highlights Plight Of Jailed Female Journalists

Journalists protest with taped mouths against censorship.
Journalists protest with taped mouths against censorship.

On International Women's Day, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has brought to the attention of the world the cases of women journalists jailed in retaliation for their work.

The New York-based CPJ said in a blog post published on March 8 that at least 33 of the 251 journalists who were in jail in December were women.

At least one of them -- Turkish reporter and artist Zehra Dogan -- was released last month after serving a sentence on antistate charges, CPJ said.

Turkey, the largest jailer of journalists in the world, also has by far the largest number of imprisoned women journalists, 14 out of a total of 68.

One of them, Hatice Duman, is serving a life sentence for being accused of being a member of the banned Marxist Leninist Communist Party, a charge that CPJ considers unsubstantiated after having viewed court documents.

China is holding seven women journalists behind bars -- three of them for reporting on the plight of the Uyghur Muslims in the western Xinjiang region.

Saudi Arabia has jailed four women journalists -- all put behind bars over their criticism of the kingdom's ban on women driving.

Israel has imprisoned two women bloggers for criticism aimed at the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority, and radical Israeli groups.

Two women journalists are being held in prison in communist Vietnam for "antistate propaganda," while Egypt has imprisoned two photojournalists on antistate and false-news charges.

The sole woman journalist known to be in prison in civil-war-wracked Syria is a blogger, Tal al-Mallohi, who was detained in 2009 for allegedly spying for the United States.

CPJ says women journalists held behind bars around the world are subjected to abusive behavior, including sexual violence, invasive strip searches, and beatings.