By Tapiwanashe Mulenga
Women in News (WIN) has condemned increasing cases of sexual harassment of men by their female counterparts and most cases go unreported as men are shy to speak out.
Statistics unveiled by WAN -IFRA shows that the percentage of men facing sexual assault in communities is growing rapidly and most cases go unreported as men feel ashamed to do so.
Speaking during a virtual one-day workshop for male media personal, WAN-IFRA, Africa director Jane Godia urged media practitioners and media houses not to overlook sexual harassment as a virtue of women only, but to reconsider the position of men in newsrooms and elsewhere.
Men, in general, have an obscure representation in societies and this is perpetuated by the traditional convention that has its own definition of a man. A man is not expected to cry or to be victimized by a woman and most cultures are awash with such beliefs.
She urged media houses to be advocates of sexual harassment and promoters of gender equity in newsrooms. “Sexual harassment in the news media industry is a pervasive and a
global problem. A 2013-14 global study found that 48% of female journalists had experienced some form of sexual harassment at their workplaces against that of men which stands at 29.3%, with 83% saying they did not report the incidents.
“In 2017, WIN carried out its own survey on 119 women in 9 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The survey showed that in Africa, 64% of women had been verbally harassed, while 24% had been physically harassed. In MENA, 59% had been verbally harassed, while 17% had been physically harassed. Only 29% of women who had been sexually harassed reported the incidents,” said Godia.
She pointed out that the WIN-FRA sexual harassment guideline explains procedures, provides practical steps, guidance, and templates that can be applied across media organizations, and urged employees to speak out when abused.
Godia however urged employees to maintain truism in their word and to desist from making false claims. The employer’s sexual harassment guide is designed for employers and people running media organizations, including senior executives, managers, and human resources departments, and gives them professional as well as legal obligations to protect their employees against such acts at workplaces.
It also prevents sexual harassment in organizations and how to handle complaints as well as providing the required support to employees in sexual harassment cases.
Participants voiced concern over the lack of representation when it comes to sexual harassment of men in the newsrooms, and called upon men to speak up more on the topic. Mary Mbewe a project trainer manager pointed out the importance of a policy at the workplace saying it helps employees to speak out without fear of losing their jobs. She also noted the importance of reporting cases of sexual harassment early.
Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (ZINEF) representatives commended media houses to speak out and write about sexual harassment for communities to understand that any sex can be a victim of sexual harassment. Speaking on the same platform, Project Manager for WIN Zimbabwe Susan Makore urged media houses to provide policies that govern, protect and equalise employees. She said these policies have to be agreed on, signed by the management, and approved by lawyers who align them in accordance with the labour laws of that country.
“Behavioural change begins with increased awareness, dialogue, crucially, the creation of policies and procedures that help establish working environments that are free from sexual harassment,” said Susan Makore. #The Sun