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can I tell? What should I do? Sexual harassment in the media
of African Media Women - Zimbabwe (FAMWZ) & Zimbabwe Union of
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Introduction and Background
For many years,
women in the Zimbabwean media have been grappling with sexual harassment
which has impacted on them personally and professionally. Sexual
harassment is becoming an extensive problem in most newsrooms, because,
over the years it has transformed from subtle hints to inappropriate
behaviour and now to blatant propositions. Since the change in behaviour
has been gradual it is being considered normal behaviour.
and in particular female journalists are being sexually harassed
at work by their colleagues and bosses and they have no idea what
to do or where to turn.
They are not
sure whether they should tell someone about the incident or even
who they should tell in the newsroom. They are further traumatised
when they go out on assignment and are harassed by their news sources.
When the journalists go back to the newsroom and report these incidents,
they are ridiculed or ignored. They are told to “deal with
it” or “get over it” since it is one of the professional
hazards that a journalist has to deal with. Sometimes the sexual
harassment complaint is used to condemn the ability of female journalists
to carry out their work competently.
It is even more
difficult to address issues of sexual harassment when decision makers
in the media deny the existence and prevalence of sexual harassment.
Young female journalists who have just entered the profession or
are working as interns are particularly vulnerable. Media organisations
have policies which are very clear but they are not adhered to because
the committees usually appointed to deal with the cases are inadequately
equipped to handle such matters.
the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and the Federation of African
Media Women Zimbabwe jointly launched a campaign against sexual
harassment in the media as part of World Press Freedom Day Commemorations
on May 3 2012, as a way to raise awareness of sexual harassment
within the media.
FAMWZ and ZUJ
have compiled this booklet as part of their strategic campaign to
assist media organisations reflect on and begin to deal with sexual
harassment in the workplace. The booklet defines sexual harassment,
types of harassment and policies and procedures that media organisations
can put in place to assist their male and female staff.
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