Women and gender non-conforming media professionals remain the most vulnerable to sexual harassment in the workplace as they are three and a half times more likely to experience harassment than men, reports a recent global study by WAN-IFRA Women in News (WIN) in partnership with City University of London

“41% of women media professionals have experienced veberal and or physical sexual harassment in the work place,” read the study that documents the extent of sexual harassment in newsrooms.

“It is up to the industry to address this problem by being unequivocal in the stance against sexual harassment, and by having the policies and tools in place to manage incidents,” said WAN-IFRA Women in News executive director Melanie Walker.

In 2021, an Africa-focused WIN research study reported that one in two women media professionals has suffered sexual harassment in the workplace in Africa.

Illustrating the pervasiveness of the problem, the study reported that 46.12% of surveyed respondents said they had witnessed at least one incident, while nearly one in five (16%) said they had witnessed five or more incidents.

However, this new global study shows sexual harrament in the newsrooms to be a more widespread global challange.

Globally journalists are increasingly being threated by violence and harrassment, however women and gender non-conforming journalists face compounded threat as they are vulnerable in the workplace as well,” explained Walker.

“Women and gender non-conforming people are disproportionately affected by sexual harassment in the media sector. While we have known this anecdotally, the findings from this research show that sexual harassment is an endemic problem in the industry – irrespective of geography,” she said. 

Motivated by the lack of data on sexual harassments in many regions, the study sought to produce data that gives a measure to the scale of the problem such as to prompt action to end sexual harassment in newsrooms.  

“We believe this data will help our collective effort to effort to establish the mechanisms, and bring about the culture change necessary, to root out sexual harassment for good,” said Walker.

Women stay silent 

Two thousand individuals took part in the survey in 20 countries throughout Africa, Southeast Asia, Russia, the Middle East and parts of Central America.

The study also found that 80% of sexual harassment cases went unreported.

“On average, one in four respondents said they did not report their experiences of harassment because their organisations lacked the mechanism to do so and/or they did not how,” the report found.

“Of the few cases that are reported, action is taken by the organisation in only half of the cases and is most commonly limited to warning the perpetrators (41%).”

The research is available here: https://sexualharassment.womeninnews.org/research/

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