U.S. journalist Andrea Noel has left Mexico for safety reasons after becoming a target for misogynistic internet trolls. The 27-year-old reporter found herself at the center of a social media storm after she shared a video of sexual harassment online.
The 27-year-old was walking through Mexico City’s Condesa neighbourhood on International Women’s Day when a man approached her, lifted her dress and pulled down her underwear. The freelance reporter posted CCTV footage of the assault on Twitter to help police track the offender.
She then received a torrent of violent online abuse. Her location was posted online, and she reported that groups of people had been loitering outside her house, prompting fears for her safety.
One Mexican newspaper columnist was fired after he called Noel a “feminazi” and accused her of fabricating the story to attract attention.
Noel announced her decision to leave Mexico on Facebook. “I left my house to get a cup of coffee, but - because life can be surreal… it didn’t quite work out that way. Now I leave my house, for good,” the freelance journalist wrote. “I don’t regret anything I’ve said, and only hope it hasn’t been completely in vain.”
Noel’s fears regarding her safety are founded in the history of violence against journalists, and especially female journalists in Mexico.
In October, crime reporter Anabel Flores Salazar was tortured and murdered in Veracruz, a state that is considered one of the riskiest places in the world for reporters.
The-high profile journalist Lydia Cacho was raped in a bus station bathroom in 1999 and was kidnapped by police six years later.
The Communication and Information on Women Organization (Cimac) documented 184 cases of violence against women journalists between 2002 and 2013, representing a more than 2,200 percent increase, while attacks against male journalists increased by 276 percent.
Of these incidents, 11 were cases of femicide, a statistic that reminds us that Mexico is still one the most dangerous places for journalists in the world.