65% Of Kenyan Women In Media Face Sexual Harassment At Work, Report

By Lynnet Okumu / Published January 31, 2022 | 10:55 am




KEY POINTS

65 percent of Kenyan women faced sexual harassment compared to 25 percent of men in the media. Of this, 45 percent was physical and 56 percent verbal.


Sexual Harassment

KEY TAKEAWAYS


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.


The global study released by WAN-IFRA Women in News has found that on average, 65 percent of Kenyan women faced sexual harassment compared to 25 percent of men in the media. Of this, 45 percent was physical and 56 percent verbal.

The report indicates that only 22 percent of the total cases were reported, of which 40 percent received some form of action.

According to the report, on average, 41 percent of women media professionals around the globe have experienced sexual harassment of some kind i.e. verbal and/or physical sexual harassment in the workplace, yet only 1 in 5 reported the incident.

In Africa, 1 in 2 women has faced sexual harassment at work. Around 56% experienced verbal harassment and 38% experienced physical harassment according to the research. Only 21% of all those who experienced sexual harassment reported it to their media organization.

Furthermore, of all reported incidents of sexual harassment in the eight African countries surveyed, media organizations took action on average of 57 percent of the time.

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 labeled.

Absence of and lack of awareness of reporting mechanisms were also mentioned as a factor, with 46.7 percent saying their organization has no sexual harassment policy and 35.9 percent were unaware of what their policy entails.

“The research highlights a lack of trust in the organization, 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.

In all the countries surveyed worldwide, the following issues were common for the increased rate of sexual harassment among women in the workplace.

  • Majority goes unreported

Almost 80 percent of sexual harassment cases are unreported. This is largely due to fear – fear of negative impact, fear of losing their job, fear of not being believed, and fear of retaliation.

In addition, on average, one in four respondents said they did not report their experience of harassment because their organization lacked the mechanism to do so and/or they did not know-how. Only 11 percent of respondents reported knowing whether their organizations even had a sexual harassment policy.

  • Management response is weak

Of the few cases that are reported, action is taken by the organization is only half of the cases and is most commonly limited to warning the perpetrator (41 percent).

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Research numbers also show that experiences of sexual harassment were overwhelmingly perpetrated by fellow employees (39 percent) or management (19 percent direct supervisor and 18.9 percent higher management).

  • The gap between perception and reality

Out of the 85 executives, including 51 women from media organizations in the regions under survey, 43.5 percent acknowledged that they experienced sexual harassment – similar to the findings reported by women journalists. Yet only 27 percent of these same executives believe that it is still an issue in the industry.

“It was remarkable to notice the gap in perspective between journalists who participated in the survey and the management of media organizations. This shows that when clear and effective reporting mechanisms are not present, management is unaware of the problem of sexual harassment in their organizations,” said Lindsey Brumell, lead researcher and Senior Lecturer, City University, London.

Possible solution

It all starts with a conversation on what is and isn’t acceptable behavior in your media organization. – Being explicit about sexual harassment – sharing definitions, what behaviors 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.






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