With fresh cases of sexual harassment coming to light as part of the #MeToo movement, the Editors Guild of India Tuesday came out in strong support of the women journalists who were victims of sexual predation and asked media organisations to hold unbiased inquiries into all such cases. The Guild, in a statement, said anybody found guilty of sexual harassment or assault should be punished as provided in the law and asserted that a fair, just and safe working environment is essential if press freedoms are to flourish in the country.
Unequivocally condemning sexual predation, the Guild lauded the women journalists who have showed courage to bring the critical issues in public debate. It also expressed concern and dismay over the incidence of alleged sexual harassment and assault on women journalists.
“It is worse when the perpetrators also happen to be enjoying senior or supervisory positions in the profession,” the Guild said.
Calling upon the media organisations to hold thorough inquiries into all reported cases of sexual harassment, it said this is the time to strengthen internal processes, including training of staff and improving awareness, as mandated by the law and even beyond. A number of women journalists, in social media posts, have recounted harrowing instances of sexual predation by men in several media organisations as part of the #MeToo movement which was triggered in India following Bollywood actor Tanushree Dutta’s allegations against Nana Patekar.
In its statement, the Guild also expressed its gratitude and solidarity towards women journalists who have displayed the courage to bring these critical issues in public debate. “The Guild is also committed to ensuring that the legal rights of either the victims or the accused are not violated. A fair, just and safe working environment is essential if press freedoms are to flourish.
“The newsroom in our profession is a relatively informal, free-spirited and hallowed space. It must be protected. The Guild extends its total support to all women journalists, who suffered a disadvantage in their careers, physical or mental trauma, as a result of any sexual predation,” the statement said.
The newsroom is the most inclusive work space in terms of gender and it is “our responsibility as media leaders” to ensure that it remains safe and fair for all, especially women, the Guild said.