By Makutu Manneh
The Gambia Press Union (GPU) on Thursday 22 October 2020 ended two-day training on sexual harassment policy for producers and editors.
Lamin Jahateh, Program Manager for The Gambia Press Union said during his opening statement that sexual harassment and discrimination are prevalent in The Gambian media.
Mr. Jahateh added that the research carried out by GPU also showed that more than 86 percent of the harassment and discrimination are perpetrated by men.
He pointed out that inspite of the high rate of the prevalence of sexual harassment and discrimination media houses do not have any policy or regulations to control the act in their newsrooms.
He highlighted that some of the opportunities used to perpetrate sexual harassment on women includes assigning them for coverage, when they want to join the profession and/or when they want to go for overseas training.
He noted that the GPU is working on creating a unit to deal with issues of sexual harassment and discrimination in their newsrooms and also to have a lawyer on retainer ship to help counsel and/or prosecute cases in its efforts to tackle issues of sexual harassment.
He observed that most of the times nobody is well trained on how to handle issues of sexual harassment and discrimination in the newsrooms, saying at the level of GPU, they want to address what is happening by training people on how to recognize sexual harassment.
He further said The Gambian culture seems to be a little tolerant to sexual harassment and as such when it happens they feel it is normal.
The GPU Program Manager also said the policy will be made available to media houses for them to domesticate it based on their newsroom settings, adding that with this they will be able to curb issues of sexual harassment and discrimination in the newsrooms.
Lawa Drammeh representing the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare said there is the need to accord legal protection to women and girls in the media and the society at large to effectively address and support services.
“All forms of sexual harassment exploration and abuse are completely unacceptable”, she stated, saying these behaviors have no place in society.
Madam Drammeh highlighted that it is their collective priority to prevent sexual harassment, further urging people to constantly report such cases for swift, appropriate and effective action by appropriate authorities.