THE Gender Council of the Delhi Union of Journalists welcomes the #MeToo movement initiated on social media by several young women journalists. They have spoken up about sexual harassment at the workplace, citing personal experiences and in some cases naming and shaming senior journalists, including editors of various newspapers. We recognise their courage in doing so, as they may risk jobs and careers by speaking up.
Many senior journalists including editors have been named on social media. The DUJ Gender Council expects that the managements of all the various publications that the accused journalists work for will take cognizance of the complaints, refer them to the Internal Complaints Committees mandated by law, examine the charges and take due action if the accused are found guilty. We are concerned that in many media organizations, the ICCs are dysfunctional.
In some cases, the harassment reported on social media took place at work, in others it was in social situations outside the workplace. In some cases ‘sources’ contacted by reporters in the field misbehaved. Some accusations are backed by screenshots of offensive messages. Others are not. However, we caution women journalists against misconstruing certain situations and against naming individuals without some kind of proof of harassment, as these complaints may unfortunately not stand scrutiny by an ICC or a court of law.
The DUJ Gender Council appeals to all members to take heed of such complaints. Women journalists are no longer willing to take things lying down and workplace behaviour must change to respond to the changing social environment. We call for solidarity and 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.