29 Percent of Sri Lanka Female Journos Experienced Work Place Sexual Harassment
COLOMBO: Almost 29 percent of Sri Lankan female journalists have experienced sexual harassment in the work place according to the latest survey conducted by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
Dilrukshi Handunnetti, the author of the survey report, told Express on Sunday, that out of the 45 female respondents, 13 (ie: 28.8 percent ) said that they had experienced sexual harassment in the work place.
But this could well be the tip of the iceberg as most cases are not reported, for a variety of reasons. Such incidents are brushed under the carpet partly because there is lack of support from colleagues, female as well as male; and partly because complaints lodged are generally ignored by the organization.
One of the victims, a Colombo-based English language journalist, told Handunnetti: “When I complained to the department head that I was being harassed sexually by the Associate Editor, there were other men who were old enough to be my father, advising me not to upset colleagues. When I objected to lack of action by the Head, I was offered free advice by other men, who told me to avoid spitting on my own face by raising these issues.”
Shockingly, the victim’s female colleagues advised her to ignore the incident “for the sake of peace.” But the last straw was when her Department Head asked her to withdraw her complaint and sign a document claiming she had “misunderstood” the situation.
Three other journos, including two in supervisory positions, had their buttocks touched by a middle-aged male colleague. But they did not complain because their colleagues described the act as “normal male behavior”.
More than half of the women who had experienced sexual harassment (69.23 percent) said that the perpetrator was a colleague; 30.77 percent said it was a superior and 15.38 percent said it was an interview subject.
“The absence of complaints and redress mechanisms contributes to the reluctance on the part of women to complain against incidents of sexual harassment, ” Handunnetti further said.