Looking at the Newsroom Environment in Africa

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Women in News, a global organisation focused on gender equality, conducted research on sexual harassment in newsrooms. The project employed two methods for data collection: a survey of media personnel, distributed online, and in-depth interviews with media executives conducted online through video calls.

The approach was designed to understand patterns of sexual harassment in newsrooms, and monitor perceptions of officers with positions of power within media organisations. The survey responses were anonymous and interview participants were assigned a pseudonym to protect their identity. Data collection began in July 2020 in Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It ended in November 2020.

The findings show that women are the prime targets of sexual harassment. An average of 56% experienced verbal harassment and 38% experienced physical harassment. But 24% of men reported experiencing verbal harassment and 15% reported experiencing physical harassment. Those who identified as gender non-conforming were a small sample in the study, but 50% reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment.

Nearly half of participants reported witnessing sexual harassment – 17% stated they had seen five or more incidents. And this was quite consistent across all types of media.

SOURCE: THE CONVERSATION