Female journalists harassed more than men, report shows

AMWIK acting Executive Director Sharon Kechula speaks during the commissioning of the report. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

More women in Kenyan media experience sexual harassment compared male journalists, a new report shows.

The report titled “The Alarming Prevalence of Sexual Harassment,” shows that 60 per cent of women reported sexual harassment compared to male journalists at 23 per cent.

The report commissioned jointly by the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) and Thomson Reuters Foundation was released on Tuesday.

The survey was carried out between 2021 to 2023.

Another report titled “Identifying the Gaps, Limitations, and Effectiveness of Psychosocial and Mental Health Support for Survivors of Sexual Harassment in the Kenyan Media,” was also launched.

The sexual harassment report involved 240 participants. It assessed the prevalence of sexual harassment, evaluated the existing legal framework and uncovered the underlying challenges to curbing such harassment.

Of the 148 respondents, 98 were females and 50 males.

Additionally, the study conducted 25 Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) involving 20 journalists and five academicians.

Over 70 per cent of the respondents indicated that they knew of perpetrators of sexual harassment who are yet to be punished.

“This stark reality highlights a deeply rooted culture of misogyny and a systemic failure to address sexual harassment effectively,” reads the report.

“The consequence of this culture extends beyond the immediate victims, affecting workplace morale, productivity, and the overall well-being of media professionals as a whole,” reads the report.

Of the respondents, 77 per cent said that they did not know of any initiatives that would be powerful enough to dislodge the problem of sexual harassment in their work places.

And 73 per cent indicated that they did not feel empowered or protected enough to report perpetrators of sexual harassment.

According to the research, sexual harassment can have significant adverse impacts on the mental health and well-being of the survivors.

The study comes three years after a similar one by WAN-IFRA released in 2021.

The report showed that more women in media houses experienced verbal sexual harassment compared to physical sexual harassment.

The 60 per cent in AMWIK report is an increase from the Women In News report which was at 57 per cent in 2021.

“Of the respondents, 54.5 per cent said they did not know of guarantees to anonymity after reporting a case. They therefore preferred to stay silent regarding the sexual harassment rather than get exposed,” said Dr Brian Pandiya, assistant researcher.

AMWIK acting Executive Director Sharon Kechula said there is lack of psycho-social support on implementation of policies and lack of awareness among media organisations.

Winnie Syombua, gender lead at Journalists for Human Rights, said it’s time for the media sector and justice system to work collaboratively to end sexual harassment.