Female Brazilian sports journalists’ plea: Just let us work

RIO DE JANEIRO — Female sports journalists in Brazil have been campaigning to curb the sexism and harassment they face while doing their jobs — and incidents during reports from the World Cup have drawn attention to their LetHerWork movement.

It’s part of efforts worldwide by women to publicize sexual harassment and assault in their everyday lives, most famously through the #MeToo movement.

Just as women from Hollywood to academia have spoken out, the sports journalists are highlighting the difficulties of working in what has traditionally been considered a man’s world and remains largely populated by men.

For years, they say, they have been groped, kissed and insulted while covering games and news conferences. Back at the office, they faced skepticism that a woman could effectively cover sports.

A few began a WhatsApp group to exchange stories and as that group grew, so did the feeling that they needed to do something publicly about it.

In March, several journalists posted a video online with a hashtag that was a call to action: #DeixaElaTrabalhar — Portuguese for LetHerWork. They have also begun working with police and prosecutors to ensure that Brazil’s laws against defamation and public insult are enforced in stadiums.

Some journalists have recounted hearing fans repeatedly shouting insults such as “prostitute” at them for entire halves of games with authorities doing nothing. When racial slurs are uttered, by contrast, other fans and police seem more prepared to act, said Gabriela Moreira, who appeared in the video.

“With racism, this has already been talked about a lot. With women, no,” said Moreira, who works for ESPN.

The video begins with a montage of headlines about female journalists being harassed or threatened and screen shots of insults that people have posted on social media about them.

“It happened to me,” one reporter says, followed by a clip of a fan leaning in to kiss her.

“It’s already happened to all of us,” another says.

“And it cannot happen anymore,” a third adds.

But it continues. During the World Cup in Russia, there have been at least four recorded incidents of fans groping, kissing or attempting to kiss female journalists.

In one, a man shouted an insult in Russian at journalist Ahtziri Cardenas while she was filming a report for Univision. He returned moments later and tried to grab her genitals.

A clip posted online of another incident, involving Brazilian journalist Julia Guimaraes, attracted particular attention because of her forceful reaction.

After a man leaned in to try to kiss Guimaraes while she was preparing to go live for SporTV, she told him in English: “This is not polite. This is not right. Never do this. Never do this to a woman, OK?” The man can be heard apologizing off camera.

Guimaraes wrote on Twitter that the incident was “sad” and “shameful.” She has declined to comment further.

Aline Nastari, who also appears in the DeixaElaTabalhar video, said previously women felt alone when such things happened. She recalled crying by herself after one instance of harassment and said she kept another secret because she felt ashamed.

She thinks Guimaraes was empowered to call out her harasser because of her own involvement with the video.

“From the moment you make it public and you feel that you’re in it together, that there are a lot of people experiencing the same thing, you feel supported to fight for something,” said Nastari, who works for the Brazilian channel Esporte Interativo. “DeixaElaTrabalhar symbolizes this. It’s that moment when we’re all together, we’re all united.”

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