The Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), in collaboration with Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), led an ad hoc sexual harassment committee for in-house training at Pamoja FM studios in Kibera.
The in-house training allowed Pamoja FM to understand what constitutes sexual harassment, understand the model policy and engage with members of the ad hoc committee who included Rachel Ombaka, Dorothy Njoroge, Judie Kaberia, Lilian Museka, and Ibrahim Oduor.
AMWIK was tasked by the Kenya Media Sector Working Group (KMSWG) to lead efforts to combat sexual harassment in the media. This was a result of high cases of sexual harassment, which has long been a scourge neglected in newsrooms.
According to WAN-IFRA Women in News, 79% of women working in the media have experienced one among many forms of sexual harassment. This equates to eight out of ten women. One factor contributing to the increased number of female journalists who feel insecure and give up their jobs is the lack of anti-sexual harassment policies that safeguard women in the workplace. It was discovered that where policies did exist, they were neither fully nor completely implemented.
Women journalists who have faced sexual harassment hang back to disclose incidences for fear of being victimized by their colleagues or being fired. Blue funk and being highlighted in the spotlight result in them quitting their careers in the newsroom prematurely. Lack of a redress system, clear reporting channels, and no action taken by media organizations are among many causes of increased sexual harassment in Kenyan media.
“Sexual harassment in the newsrooms often starts from the top management, or experienced individuals, it emanates from power. Men and women in newsrooms are both perpetrators and victims.” AMWIK Executive Director, Judie Kaberia expressed.
“Cases of sexual harassment in media houses not only hurt the victim but also the media organisation. Their reputation is damaged and also results in massive financial strain on the organisation.” Mr. Oduor accented.
“We are ready to constitute a committee and adopt the policy here,” said Phillip Muhatia from Pamoja FM. The media house has 26 staff members.
By Zahrah Mohammed- Intern, AMWIK
Edited by Mercy Wairimu- Intern, AMWIK