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Sexual harassment rampant in the Zimbabwean media

by Staff reporter
10 Oct 2023 at 06:31hrs | Views
Sexual harassment is rampant in the Zimbabwean media and continues largely because the media ecosystem itself - the journalists, editors, media managers, Human Resources Departments and proprietors - is complicit at various levels, the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum chair Dumisani Muleya says.

The other problem, he adds, is that perpetrators are allowed to get away with murder easily due to weak internal systems which have no strong checks and balances, as well as systematic cover-ups by different actors and stakeholders.

"Well to begin with, the main problem is the patriarchal social order in our society. It creates gender equality and skewed power relations between men and women in society, communities, homes and our workplaces," Muleya,  who is also The NewsHawks Managing Editor, told some reporters in the capital today.

"Given that context, that is precisely why gender inequality is a key driver, or underlying cause, of workplace sexual harassment.

"Other forms of discrimination and disadvantage exacerbate gender power imbalances in the workplace which can intensify individuals' vulnerabilities and excruciating experiences of sexual harassment.

"So fundamentally, sexual harassment is by and large a crude manifestation of power relations; men are more powerful structurally and practically than women in the current social order at political, economic and cultural levels.

This makes women insecure in their positions and increases their vulnerability, lack of self-confidence, or independence as they have been socialised to suffer in silence. In order to understand profoundly and properly why women endure the a lot of sexual harassment, to start with it is important to look at some of the underlying causes of this phenomenon, in this case in the media lieu.

"Having given this background, the recent dramatic case, or cases, of sexual harassment at ZBC is just the tip of the iceberg.

"The brazen quid pro quo case of sexual harassment at ZBC - which is a public media house -  occurred because a key radio services boss or supervisor sought sexual favours from a subordinate in return for some type of job benefit — in this case to be transferred from Bulawayo to Harare. Imagine the cost of that transfer - sex!

That is a typical quid pro case of sexual harassment. It could have been for a salary raise, better working conditions, promotion, etc. — or to avoid some type of detriment like a pay cut, demotion, censure, poor performance review or even retrenchment.

"That sexual harassment is rife in the Zimbabwe media is common cause. A lot of studies or research has shown that.

Almost all conventional or mainstream media organisations in Zimbabwe have swept cases of sexual harassment under the carpet.

When we there, we heard a lot of such examples, but media managers and their human resources departments just swept them under the carpet.

Besides, there is no effective system of investigation and sanction in the media to discourage or prevent that evil.

The causes are to be found in the social and contextual or specific circumstances in the media and newsrooms.

For instance, gender inequality in newsrooms is clear. Women underrepresentation in the media is scandalous. It's bad.

This is worsened by the hostile which forces them to leave the media and look for jobs elsewhere. If you go to training institutions women will be well- represented in classes at the beginning; we all have seen that, but when students go for internships, ladies drop out because the environment is hostile in newsrooms; they go for public relations, marketing and advertising jobs or events gigs. They also drop due to pressure at home, husbands or partners who disapprove of their workplaces. That basically worsens gender inequality and the imbalances, indeed power relations.

"In addition, some women leave newsrooms due to harassment directly; newsroom structures are predominantly male-dominated.

"Further, where women are well-presented, they tend to be in relatively much low-ranking positions, dependant upon the approval and goodwill of male superiors for hiring, retention and advancement. Being at the mercy of male superiors adds further gives direct economic clout to male colleagues to have more power and to make sexual demands. In the process, on the other side it deprives women of equal material security, comfort and independence which could help reinforce their resistance to unreasonable job pressures and aggressive sexual demands like those at ZBC where alpha males or predators threaten to 'maul' or 'devour' their female prey, which in itself is violent imagery and symbolism that creates a jungle environment in the newsrooms. That is why some colleagues position themselves in newsrooms as lions; the king of the jungle to crudely and unsophisticatedly justify sexual harassment."

Source - newshawks
More on: #Sex, #Harassment, #Media