Home NEWS County News 60pc of Kenyan journalists have experienced sexual harassment: AMWIK

60pc of Kenyan journalists have experienced sexual harassment: AMWIK

The research was commissioned by the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) and presents the findings of a comprehensive study on sexual harassment of journalists in Kenya.

According to a report on Sexual Harassment in the Kenyan Media Landscape for the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), 60pc of respondents reported experiencing sexual harassment during their careers.

These incidents ranged from unwelcome advances and requests for sexual favours, to offensive behaviour, and the use of sexually explicit language.

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The study reveals how sexual harassment is pervasive in Kenyan newsrooms. Noting that despite the existence of legal provisions to address sexual harassment in the workplace, there are significant gaps between the law and its implementation as 70pc of the respondents know perpetrators of sexual harassment who often go unpunished.

To combat sexual harassment effectively, the report is calling for the implementation of media ethics workshops and awareness campaigns.

β€œThese initiatives should not only educate journalists and newsroom staff on recognising, preventing, and reporting sexual harassment, but also foster a culture of respect and gender equality in and outside the newsrooms. Conscious protection of newsroom spaces is essential to ensure that every employee, regardless of gender, feels safe and empowered to voice their concerns, including sexual ones. The study highlights the need for innovative solutions to address sexual harassment,” read part of the report.

The report is also proposing a one-stop website to serve as a centralised resource for information, reporting, and support related to sexual harassment.

β€œThis platform would provide a safe space for victims to seek help and share their experiences, and it would be configured to ensure anonymity, β€œ added the report.

The Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) also urged media actors to enhance sexual harassment reporting mechanisms to guarantee the safety of victims and ensure perpetrators are punished.

The survey that sampled 240 respondents, 148 of them being journalists, indicated that as many as 87.3pc cited fear of victimization as a major hurdle in addressing sexual harassment in the workplace.

Another 64pc of the respondents termed existing policies insufficient in curbing sexual harassment with another 46.8pc saying they lacked knowledge about safe reporting mechanisms.

Over 50pc of male respondents attribute harassment to women’s behaviour, contrasting with 37pc of women who shared this opinion and 40pc of female interns also reported having experienced sexual harassment, highlighting the vulnerability of entry-level professionals.

This scenario, according to AMWIK acting CEO Sharon Kechula, stems from among others, lack of psycho social support and inadequate awareness on sexual harassment.

The study underscores the gravity of the sexual harassment issue in Kenyan newsrooms, emphasizing the need for immediate action. It calls for a concerted effort from media organisations, regulatory bodies, and journalists’ associations, to combat sexual harassment effectively.

β€œBy bridging the gap between the law and its implementation, as well as addressing media capture, and fostering a culture of respect, the Kenyan media landscape can become a more inclusive environment for journalists. Innovative solutions, such as the proposed one-stop website, can play a pivotal role in helping achieve this goal,” said the report.

The study is a continuation of the WAN-IFRA research conducted between 2020 and 2021, which identified Kenya as having the highest prevalence of sexual harassment of female journalists in the region, with 79% of them experiencing verbal sexual harassment.

Read the whole report here–> Designed AMWIK Research 1 Draft

It aims to address the critical need for additional data that can be used to design effective interventions against sexual harassment in Kenya. The study also draws inspiration from the Maanzoni Declaration of March, 2021, which includes an 11th resolution demanding β€œa sector-wide intervention to urgently address any sexual harassment within the media space.”

The Maanzoni Declaration was produced by the Kenya Media Sector Working Group, consisting of the Kenya Editors’ Guild, Kenya Union of Journalists, Article 19 East Africa, Media Council of Kenya, Kenya Community Media Network, Digital Broadcasters Association, and the Association of Media Women in Kenya.

In the context of Kenya’s media landscape, sexual harassment can be linked to misogyny.

“Notably, 61% of respondents indicated that they felt the β€œissue of men who feel entitled” resulted in a high prevalence of sexual harassment. This pervasive misogyny is what contributes to media capture. The fact that most victims of sexual harassment have not been able to attain justice, as male perpetrators continue to work in the newsroom, suggests there is an extensive form of media capture by patriarchal interests,” added the report.

Speaking during the disseminating forum, Journalists for Human Rights Gender Lead, Winnie Syombua called on media actors to work with the justice system to ensure no perpetrators go unpunished.

Also read draft 2 on Identifying the Gaps, Limitations, and Effectiveness of Psychosocial and Mental Health Support for Survivors of Sexual Harassment, in the Kenyan Media-> Designed AMWIK Report 2





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