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Journalists bemoan sexual harassment

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BULAWAYO-BASED female journalists have called on media outlets to stop sexual harassment and gender discrimination within the industry to create a friendly working environment for them.

LINDA CHINOBVA
OWN CORRESPONDENT

Speaking during a workshop for female journalists facilitated by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) and the Federation of African Media Women Zimbabwe (FAMWZ), the scribes said they did not feel valued in newsrooms as they were treated as stand-ins.

“We are not being treated fairly in the newsrooms. We are assigned to do more of social stories while our male counterparts are assigned to do political stories and other challenging stories,” said one female journalist.

Another journalist said sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the media had impacted on them personally and professionally.

“Sexual harassment has become an extensive problem in the newsrooms and this has killed our confidence as women in the media industry and has in a way tempered with our personalities as individuals,” she said.

The journalist said they were harassed at work by their colleagues and bosses and they have no idea what to do or who to turn.

“When one is harassed, they are not sure who to tell or whether they should talk about the incident because when they report they are ridiculed or ignored,” she said.

The female scribes said all newsrooms must come up with policies that shield them from the injustices they are currently subjected to. They called on newsrooms that already have gender policies in place to make them transparent and ensure that they are fully implemented.

FAMWZ national co-ordinator Abigail Gamanya said sexual harassment and gender discrimination had been topical in the media industry.
She said the most prominent type of discrimination in the newsroom was that women suffer was ageism whereby one finds herself being deprived of equal opportunities as male journalists because of her age and physical appearance.

She said those who had been harassed must have the courage to speak out so that injustices in the media are addressed.

“It is by speaking out that as a profession, as stakeholders, as past and potential victims of the scourge, we will be able to eradicate sexual harassment,” said Gamanya.

She said FAMWZ together with ZUJ and Humanitarian Information Facilitation Centre would embark on a tour of newsrooms to enlighten journalists about sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

Gamanya said they would reach out to tertiary institutions that offer media studies to raise awareness among trainee journalists about gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the media.

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