Sexual harassment limits women’s advancement in Tanzanian media (Internews)

August 27, 2018
A translation for this article is available in French

“You might go [to report] a story in a particular office [and] the manager is the source, and he asks the reporter for sex. Female journalists who seek employment [also] meet bosses who are asking to exchange sex for a job.”

This disturbing claim—and many others like it—was uncovered by Internews as the organization conducted research on women’s role in the media in Tanzania. Internews’ research found that women who aim for media careers face rampant discrimination, a lack of opportunities, and demands for transactional sex.

These threats are not limited to the workplace, but often face university students as well.

“One of our goals is to empower women journalists to become editors,” says Angela Nicoara, the Tanzania country director for Internews. “But our conversations with women showed that sexual exploitation at universities, including journalism schools, and in media houses was seen as a main obstacle of being employed or promoted.”

Farm Radio International has heard similar reports, including from Tanzanian broadcaster Lilian Madelemo, who was profiled in Barza Wire in March 2018.

University students and lecturers told Internews that transactional or coerced sex between female students and male lecturers occurs frequently. A female student stated that she received a failing grade from a male lecturer because she had refused his sexual advances.

Some Tanzanian universities explicitly include sexual harassment in their code of conduct, while others do not. Many students and lecturers were not sure if their school had a sexual harassment policy and where to report sexual misconduct, and agreed that the problem isn’t talked about publicly.

Internews’ Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy prioritizes work that transforms relationships of power and advances women’s roles in media. So Internews collaborated with the University of Dar es Salaam to create public service announcement videos on the topic. One video opens with the question: “How do we combat sexual harassment?”

“First, we talk about it,” says Sophia Ndibalema, an assistant lecturer at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at USDM. In the public service announcement, she says, “The issue of sexual harassment is like a taboo. It’s been talked about behind closed doors … in low voices.”

The videos discuss different forms that harassment can take and recommend that students should not stay silent about the topic. “If you experience or see sexual harassment, speak up. Someone will listen,” ends one video.

The videos are intended as a jumping off point for further discussion and action. Internews plans to gather students, women lawyers, and women activists to discuss the next steps of the campaign. “Our goal is to spark more conversation and support local [civil society organizations] that take the lead in raising awareness and changing the dynamic for women journalism students and professionals,” says Mrs. Nicoara.

This story was originally published by Internews. Read the full story for more information about their key findings and watch the public service announcement videos. Go to: https://www.internews.org/story/sexual-harassment-limits-womens-advancement-tanzanian-media/?utm_source=newletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=quarterly