Combating Sexual Harassment in Kenya

Urgent Action Needed to Combat Sexual Harassment Against Women Journalists in Kenya’s Community Media.

Sexual harassment is a scourge that plagues workplaces worldwide, but its insidious grip on the field of journalism is particularly acute. In Kenya’s community media, women journalists endure a harrowing reality marked by a lack of emphasis on, and accessibility to, sexual harassment policies. The absence of robust reporting mechanisms further compounds the issue, leaving women vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

The urgency of addressing this pressing issue cannot be overstated. Recent data from our organization reveals a startling truth: between January and February alone, we fielded twenty distress calls from community journalists on the brink of abandoning their careers due to rampant harassment. From unwanted physical advances to verbal abuse, the perpetrators, often subject matter specialists, brazenly wield their power during interviews, creating an environment of fear and intimidation.

In the face of such widespread suffering, the question that demands an answer is clear: What are we waiting for?
The time for action is now. Sexual harassment policies must be unearthed, implemented, and rigorously enforced to protect the rights and dignity of women journalists. Additionally, there must be a concerted effort to establish elaborate reporting mechanisms that empower victims to come forward without fear of reprisal or stigma.
Moreover, the broader issue of gender equality in media cannot be overlooked. Should the vocation of journalism be monopolized by men, leaving women to bear the brunt of harassment and discrimination? The answer is a resounding no. Media, as a career, must be inclusive and equitable, providing equal opportunities and protections for all journalists, regardless of gender.

As we confront this challenge head-on, let us draw inspiration from the words of the WAN-IFRA report on sexual harassment in Kenya: “Silence is not an option; action is imperative.” Together, let us break the silence, dismantle the structures of oppression, and pave the way for a future where women journalists can thrive without fear or compromise.

By Moses Provabs

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