Partinella Ngozo and Evidence Chipadze
Frederich Naumann Foundation (FNF) is planning to expand their mentorship program to male journalists in order to deal with sexual harassment in the newsrooms.
Speaking on the sidelines of a 3-day workshop in Gweru last week FNF Programs Manager Fungisai Sithole said that newsrooms in Zimbabwe remain patriarchal and male dominated despite the fact that most universities and colleges recruit more women compared to males.
“According to current statistics 70% of most newsrooms are male dominated so as a foundation we want to create a pool of female journalist who are fearless in Newsrooms so that we change the narrative of it being a male dominated industry,” she said.
Sithole said that they heard many negative stories of sexual harassment in provinces therefore it was necessary for them to involve young and upcoming male journalists so that they understand what sexual harassment is.
“Most men due to our socialization and culture do not understand sexual harassment therefore we hope that next year we engage them and females to talk together so that we create a friendly environment for female journalist,” she said.
Faith Zaba a veteran journalist also urged female journalists to speak up against any form of sexual harassment and never give up their careers
“I have friends who had so much potential in the media but they gave up due sexual harassment and I would urge you that as sisters we should speak up against sexual harassment and fight it no matter what in life never give up in your career,” she said.
Zaba narrated her ordeal of sexual harassment and told fellow female journalists that harassment is not experienced in news rooms only but some sources were also perpetrators of sexual harassment.
“Some sources take advantage that they are people with influence and would try to sexually harass female journalist therefore I urge you as you go to diaries always tell you are superior and move in pairs as well incase something might happen while on duty and always have recorded audios as evidence,” she said.
During the session participants of the mentorship program also narrated their experiences and opened up that as young female journalists the level of sexual harassment in the newsroom demotivated them to join the media.
One of the participants name withheld explained her horrific experience as an intern and blamed some employers due to poverty who lead their students to some sources resulting in them becoming victims of sexual harassment.
“Most media houses especially in Midlands are incapacitated resulting in some employers sending us on certain assignments with sources who will in turn take advantage of us violating our rights,” she said.
Sexual harassment is an unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favors or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which makes a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated, where a reasonable person would anticipate that reaction in the circumstances.
Another participant said that most men in Newsrooms seem to have a database where they discuss that there is a new intern in town resulting in most of them asking for sexual favors with some having negative perceptions over students from certain universities thinking that they are of lose character.
“It’s so sad that some of our male colleagues victimise us if you are an intern it seems they tell each other that someone new has joined the industry in the process some sexually harassing us which is not good especially if they hear u are from university they would have already painted you as a loose character,” she said.
However some participates also blamed their female counterparts as they were the ones who lured the man with their dressing.
“Ladies sometimes we also victimise our colleagues with our dressing some clothes are not even appropriate for work they put on revealing clothes so we should know how to dress properly,” she said.