Kampala – Government media owners and managers have been asked to prioritise the safety of female journalists. This comes after a study conducted by Uganda Media Women Association (UMWA) revealed that one in three women have considered quitting journalism due to violations.
The report titled, “Soft Target for Abuse,” also revealed that between 2022 and 2023, women in media were mainly perceived as soft targets for attacks and violations that took the form of sexual harassment, cyber bullying, physical and verbal abuse.
Brenda Namata, the UMWA public relations officer revealed this during a stakeholders dialogue breakfast meeting held in Kampala on Wednesday under the theme: “Building Strategies and Strengthening Safety and Security Mechanisms for Female Journalists to Thrive in Media.”
“We are realizing that media managers and owners are using women to drive revenue into their media houses. They are using women to solicit interviews from big sources,” Ms Namata said, adding that in some incidents female journalists have been forced by their bosses to give into sexual demands for exclusive interviews and adverts for their respective media houses.
According to Rosemary Kemigisha, a senior officer form the Uganda Human Rights Commission, the issue of abuse is deeply rooted in the societal and cultural fabric, and there is need to address the root cause. She also added that arresting perpetrators alone is not enough.
Journalists speak out
Jane Ajwang, a writer at Media Focus on Africa, acknowledged that interns are more likely to be subjected to sexual harassment because they are not oriented and alerted on safety and security threats.
There is no orientation in safety to young female journalists, the pre entry has no mechanism of alerting them on safety and security threats,” she said.
Dick Nvule, a news editor at Radio Simba, said some female Journalists dress inappropriately and this exposes them to harassment. Nvule says female Journalists should be careful with how they dress while going to make public appearances.
“As female journalists, when you are going out in the field, you also have to realize the kind of place you’re going to and how you’re going to dress. If you are dressed in skimpy dresses, you are going to attract men to tap your bat,” he said.
Nvule also urged female Journalists to speak out whenever they think their bosses (Managers and/or editors) are going out of their line of work.
“I think women should also speak out. Speak out when you think your bosses are doing things that are inappropriate. You know, you say that no we won’t do this, we won’t allow this,” he said.
According to Eric Kikomeko, an editor at Tagy TV, some female journalists are exposed to sexual harassment, as they look for survival means. Kikomeko says some media houses are not in position to pay most of their employees, especially new entrants, forcing them to resort to tied aid from old staff that are well paid.