By Ousman A. Marong
The Women Journalists Association of The Gambia (WoJAG) has organized a two-day conference at the Gambia Press Union (GPU) School of Journalism in Bakau, to discuss the Sexual Harassment Policy Bill in The Gambia.
The issue of sexual harassment in offices especially newsrooms, was at the center of discussion as journalists give account of some forms of harassment meted out to female journalists everywhere including The Gambia.
In her opening remarks, Sarjo Camara, president of the Women Journalists Association of the Gambia said the Sexual Harassment Policy Bill is not a witch-hunt against men.
“The bill is not a witch-hunt against men. It is here to address the media industry by breaking the silence through reporting the perpetrators,” she remarked.
She said the objective of the policy is to serve as a framework, for prevention, correction, and protection from sexual harassment. She added that the policy is also aimed at promoting gender equality in the media industry.
According to her, the policy bill was part of a twelve-month project which was secured by WoJAG through the Gambia Press Union, with funding from UNESCO at a tune of US $22,000.
“This policy will help each and everyone of us to be able to report about sexual harassment in the media industry,” she noted.
She encouraged female reporters to speak up and said that no one will be victimized for making sexual harassment complaints.
On his part, Sheriff Bojang Jr, president of the Gambia Press Union hailed the initiative and said the discussion of the policy bill is neither a training nor a press conference.
“What is intended to be done here has to do with your lives and livelihood especially as young reporters, men and women. This shouldn’t be seen as a war of men versus women or women versus men,” he told the young reporters.
He highlighted that in the developing countries all over the world, some people committed suicide simply because they have been sexually harassed. He added that in most cases, such occurred in the newsrooms and as a factor of stigma and discrimination.
Mr. Bojang argued that people women go through hell in the hands of men and in most cases, it occurred at workplaces.
“Men assaulting women or harassing women or things like that goes across the world. Imagine as a woman you preparing to go to work, and you are panicking to as if your boss or any of your superiors will be harassing you while at work. These are some of things we should look into,” he stressed.
Madi Jobarteh, the country representative for West Minster Foundation, said he has been seeing instances of sexual harassment in many places, eg; in offices, at business centres, workplaces, homes and communities, etc.
He revealed that sexual violence is an epidemic in the country. He intimated that sexual harassment in the newsrooms might do with the person’s professionalism.
“No culture deserves respect so long it allows for abuse to be betrayed,” he noted.