Afia Pokuaa, a broadcast journalist and Programmes Manager at Despite Media, has stated that before Ghana goes to the polls in 2024, she would have stopped practising as a journalist.
According to her, she has suffered the worse form of abuse since she decided to be a political reporter – a role that many female journalists run away from because of victimisation.
Chronicling her ordeal as a journalist and the attacks she has faced being in the frontline of political reporting on the Saturday, May 7 edition of Newsfile on Joy News, Vim Lady, as she is known popularly said, “I am drawing an exit plan for myself to leave the media…I’m not the only one; we’ve had several media people exiting the industry and moving into public relations, moving into corporate communications because it is safer, no attackers physically and emotionally.”
She said, “I had to flee the country for a month [in 2020] and return after the polls were clear…other journalists were attacked; I wasn’t the only person. Even media organisations that I thought were supposed to support me at the time left me.
“I had to go to the police headquarters myself, and file the complaints; the police director CID asked that together with my colleagues and other media people who have been attacked; put it together as one complaint and nobody was ready to do it…”
Afia Pokuaa believes the report on Press Freedom in the country by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) was inadequate because the report failed to capture her complaint with the Police CID over the attacks she had suffered during the 2020 elections.
She said, if those who did the research were very thorough in their findings, they should have at least relied on her complaint with the police and included it in the report.
She said, all the examples cited in the report seem to favour the male journalists and ignore the female journalists.
She questioned, “Is it because I’m a woman, so, I’m not important; so if I die, my life is not important? Why should I risk my job the next time to cover the next election.”
“That’s why I have said, 2024 elections, I am not going to cover it…,” she said.
When asked if she meant by her exit plan, that she will not be in the industry in 2024, Afia Pokuaa stressed, “I will not be in the industry…”
She noted that the motive behind her decision is because of the fear of attacks and when they come, “nobody is going to support you.
“I had to install 10 cameras in my house but still, I wasn’t sleeping; I monitor the cameras throughout the night. This is not fair,” Afia Pokuaa stressed.
She said had it not been for some arrangements by her media organisation, Despite Media, with some private security organisations, she would have been dead by now.
About the RSF report
Ghana dropped 30 places to 60th on the 2022 World Press Freedom Index.
The ranking is Ghana’s third-lowest since Reporters Without Borders (RSF) began publishing the report in 2002.
Ghana ranked 67th in 2002 and 66th in 2005.
This year, the index was compiled using a new methodology to take better account of new challenges, including those linked to media digitalisation.
Another change in the data gathering this year was that although the survey stopped at the end of January 2022, updates for January to March 2022 were carried out for countries where the situation had changed dramatically, such as Russia, Ukraine and Mali.
The survey assesses on the basis of a quantitative survey of press freedom violations and abuses against journalists and media, and a qualitative study based on the responses of hundreds of press freedom experts selected by RWB – which includes journalists, academics and human rights defenders.