#MeToo: NWMI demands strong Anti Sexual Harassment Policy
New Delhi, October 8 (MExN): In the wake of Indian media’s #MeToo “watershed moment,” the Network of Women in Media in India (NWMI) has called for a strong anti sexual harassment policy at workplaces, particularly media houses.
While expressing solidarity with those who have shared their “experiences of sexual harassment within the Indian media,” the NWMI underlined the need for strong mechanisms to deal with sexual harassment at the workplace.
Condemning rampant sexism and misogyny that “promotes a culture of silence, victim blaming and moral policing,” NWMI demanded that all media organizations “take suo moto cognisance of the accounts of survivors, institute inquiries and take appropriate action.”
The NWMI demanded that there should be clearly defined “policies to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace” and to set up Internal Committees (IC) in accordance with “mandatory requirements of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013” in every media organization.
The ICs must be headed by a woman and half of its members should be women with an external woman expert in law or women’s rights.
Every media organization should ensure that detailed policies with the consequences of sexual harassment are circulated widely within their organizations or their websites and in code of conduct manuals. The ICs and employers should be sensitized to take up complaints that arise out of employment and editors “must ensure that stories are not privileged over the safety of their staff.”
The NWMI demanded that freelancers and stringers who constitute the most vulnerable section as a result of their job insecurity must be brought under the purview of anti sexual harassment policies and ICs of the media houses they contribute to. All media organizations must provide assistance to the complainant.
There should be mandatory gender mainstreaming policies and awareness and sensitization for gender equality and equity. All media organizations should counsel “both survivors and those accused of sexual harassment.”
The NWMI urged media houses and organizations to follow up the cases and allegations “with due diligence” that has surfaced so far instead of burying the story and “to break the entrenched impunity for perpetrators” of sexual harassment.
DUJ welcomes #MeToo
The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) Gender Council welcomed the #MeToo movement initiated in the Indian media and appreciated the courage of those who spoke up. The DUJ in a press statement stated that it expects “the managements of all the various publications that the accused journalists work for will take cognizance of the complaints” and to take due actions “if the accused are found guilty.”
The DUJ called for “a re-examination of existing practices and attitudes at this difficult time, so that the workplace becomes safer and provides all journalists, irrespective of gender, with equal opportunities in these challenging times.”