By Ousmana A. Marong
Women Journalists Association of the Gambia (WOJAG) in partnership with the Gambia Press Union (GPU) on Friday validated the sexual harassment policy bill.
The policy seeks to end the happenings of sexual harassment in the workplace.
The objective of the policy is to serve as a framework for the presentation, correction, and protection from sexual harassment and actions to promote gender equality in the media.
The policy is part of the 12 month project that was secured by the Women Journalists through the GPU with funding from UNESCO.
Speaking at the validation ceremony held at Tango Conference hall, Fatou Touray delivering a keynote speech on behalf of WOJAG President Sarjo Camara said “This policy will help each and every one of us to be able to report on sexual harassment in the media industry.,”
She said the bill is about addressing the unacceptable act in the media by breaking the silence through reporting perpetrators.
“All complaints of harassment will be taken seriously and be treated with urgency and respect as well as with confidence. No one will be victimized for making a complaint,” she remarked.
She urged journalists to critically scrutinize the document and share the information saying the document belongs to all journalists.
She hailed UNESCO and Gambia Press Union for supporting the initiative.
In her part, Maimuna Sidibeh, Principal Officer UNESCO revealed that quite numbers of women newspaper journalists in the county are sexually harassment and this harassment ranged from degrading comments to physical sexual assault.
She said the increasing number of sexual harassment of female journalists is a cause for concern adding that when the draft bill is passed would serve as a warning tool to end all forms of sexual harassment in newsrooms.
She further revealed that there have been instances where superiors demand “sex” from their young employees.
She said the most vulnerable people to such act are the newcomers into the profession before they can be given assignments or even have their stories published?
She cited the IFJ statistics to reveal that “at least one in every two journalists suffered sexual harassment, psychological abuse, online trolling and other forms of human rights abuse”.
“Workplace discrimination had denied many competent female journalists their deserving right to move up the ladder or even to cover very important beats for the political or economic departments of the media houses. Most of these beats or assignments are often given to male journalists some of whom are not as competent as their female colleagues in the same department,” she noted.
She challenged publishers to adopt the bill and abide by its rules and conduct.