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WAN-IFRA concerned over sexual harassment in newsrooms

CONCERNED: Jane Godia

WAN-IFRA Women in News and the University of London are conducting a major research study into sexual harassment in the media workplace in selected countries in the Arab Region, Southeast Asia sub-Saharan Africa, including Botswana.

In a recent press release from WAN-INFRA, Women in News’ Director for the African region, Jane Godia stated that sexual harassment is a major issue in African newsrooms, but that, “Unfortunately it often goes unreported and is shrouded in silence. The victims keep quiet; eyewitnesses turn the other way; perpetrators continue unabated and executives bury their head in the sand.”

According to Godia the research that commenced this month will run until October 2020 and is expected to bring out figures that are often missing, “and will help bring down barriers to addressing this behavior.”

The study according to WAN-INFRA builds on research done in 2018 which identified a gap in available data on sexual harassment in media, specifically in the African region, specifically Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Phase one of the study will focus on this region followed by Phase two that will focus on the Arab Region and Southeast Asia.

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“We know that sexual harassment is common in many workplaces and the media industry is no exception. However, without the hard data to show this, it is difficult to understand the extent of the problem media professionals face. The existing research is focused on countries in the Global North,” Rebecca Zausmer, Director of Knowledge and Operations at Women in News was quoted as saying.

She further added that “Our aim for this study is to plug the data gap and enable the media industry to work together to address the problem of sexual harassment through evidence-based action.”

WAN-INFRA described sexual harassment of media practitioners as a crisis around the world hence the objective of the study is to better understand and raise awareness about the extent of the problem of sexual harassment in the mentioned regions’ media industry.

Further, the study is expected to contribute to global data on sexual harassment in the media industry, by filling these regional data and enable informed, evidence-based responses to sexual harassment in the media industry.

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