The majority of abuse, threats and harassment facing women in the media comes not from the work they do, but from the places they work. In a study released Monday from the International News Safety Institute and the International Women’s Media Foundation, about 64 percent of women reported facing abuse, threats and intimidation related to their work, and more than half of that came from a boss, supervisor or co-worker, according to the study.
“When we talk about safety for the media, we often think in terms of staying safe in war zones, civil unrest and environmental disasters, but how often do we think of the office as a hostile environment?” said INSI Director Hannah Storm in a press release.
“What this ground-breaking survey shows is that women journalists are often at risk in their own work places as well: targeted by their colleagues, and because they are let down by the very people they should be able to trust, the violence and harassment they face goes widely unreported and therefore unpunished.”
- The study was conducted between July and November of this year, and included 875 women from around the world, with about 21 percent from North America, 19 percent from Europe and 28 percent from Asia and the Pacific. More than 41 percent of respondents were between 25 and 34. More than 82 percent worked as reporters. About 49 percent worked in newspapers, 23 percent in magazines, 21 percent in TV and 16 percent in radio.
When asked about sexual harassment, more than 45 percent reported that harassment came from colleagues, and more than 28 percent from their bosses.
The study also asked if organizations prepared their employees to handle harassment and threats. Of the more than 400 people who answered that question, the majority said no.
On Friday, November 29, Kavitha Rao wrote in The Guardian about news that Tarun Tejpal, editor of the investigative magazine Tehelka, attempted to rape a young female colleague.
The whole case might have been swept under the carpet if Tejpal had not written a series of emails, to try to justify his behaviour. Initially, he admitted a “bad lapse of judgment” and “recused” himself from the editorship of Tehelka for six months. Meanwhile, managing editor Shoma Chaudhury downplayed the alleged rape in an email to staff, calling it an “untoward incident” to be dealt with internally. Then a further email of “unconditional apology” from Tejpal to the victim emerged, in which he spoke of attempting a “sexual liaison” despite her “clear reluctance”. Faced with a barrage of criticism, Chaudhury also quit, along with six other Tehelka staffers. In the latest development, Tejpal was this week summoned to Goa for questioning by police and is on bail until Saturday morning.