65pc of Kenyan female scribes face s****l h****sment at work – report

Thursday, January 27th, 2022 06:06 | By
End violence against women and girls

Kenya is leading in sexual harassment in the media in Africa at 56 per cent, a new report by Women in News reveals.

Released by WAN-IFRA Women in News in partnership with City, University of London, the report, which surveyed more than 2,000 individuals in 20 countries in Africa, southeast Asia, Eurasia, Central America and the Arab region, revealed that 40 per cent of women media professionals have faced sexual harassment in the workplace but only 20 per cent reported it. 

In Kenya, 65 per cent of women faced such harassment compared to 25 per cent of men. Of this, 45 per cent was physical and 56 per cent verbal. Of all cases, only 22 per cent was reported, of which 40 per cent received some form of action.

The organisation defines sexual harassment as unwanted and offensive behaviour, of a sexual nature, that violates a person’s dignity and makes them feel degraded, humiliated, intimidated, or threatened. It includes verbal (through conversation), non-verbal (actions and noises at a distance), physical (physical pressure or force) and rape.

 The research indicated that across Africa, many people kept back from filing reports because they were afraid of losing their jobs, of retaliation and of being negatively labelled.  Absence of and lack of awareness of reporting mechanisms were also mentioned as a factor, with 46.7 per cent saying their organisation has no sexual harassment policy and 35.9 per cent were unaware of what their policy entails. 

 “The research highlights a lack of trust in the organisation, or sometimes complete failure of management and systems, to deal effectively with sexual harassment,” said Melanie Walker, WAN-IFRA’s Executive Director, Media Development and Women in News.

 She added: “This matters because the less confidence there is in an organisation’s ability to address the problem, fewer people will see value in calling it out, and so the cycle will perpetuate.”

Safe environment
 The report says there is need to change the perception of sexual harassment in the newsroom and make necessary efforts to recognise the extent and put in place plans to provide a safe environment for media professionals. 

 “It all starts with a conversation on what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour in your media organisation­— being explicit about sexual harassment — sharing definitions, what behaviour are unacceptable, and communicating the right for every employee to be treated equally. It is not enough to have a policy; staff and managers must be trained on what the procedures are for making and managing a complaint. Everyone should be clear about the consequences of sexual harassment. It is far better to be proactive and prepared than pushed into a crisis management position when a case emerges,” said Walker.

More on News