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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Published

03 May 2022

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Fiji Women's Rights Movement

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FWRM and USP Journalism Launch 'Prevalence and Impact of Sexual Harassment on Female Journalists: A Fiji Case Study' 3/05/2022

Prevalence and Impact of Sexual Harassment on Female Journalists:

A Fiji Case Study

The University of the South Pacific Journalism Programme &

the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement

PRESS RELEASE

3/05/2022

The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement in partnership with the University of the South Pacific Journalism Programme, launched a research report on the, “Prevalence and Impact of Sexual Harassment on Female Journalists: A Fiji Case Study”, in Suva today. The launch event coincides with the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day.

This research is a follow-up to two groundbreaking FWRM studies in 2002 and 2016 into the incidence and nature of sexual harassment of women in the workplace in Fiji’s four major economic hubs in the country — Suva, Nadi, Lautoka and Labasa.

As it stands, many female journalists across the world continue to experience inequalities and harassment in the workplace, often at times with little to no action taken against the perpetrators. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), violence and harassment against women in the world of work impede women’s empowerment, and their active engagement and participation in the labour force.

According to the project manager and research lead, Associate Professor in Journalism Shailendra Singh, the study aimed to identify the problem, understand it, and make recommendations to address it.

"Females hold up half the sky in journalism in Fiji and the Pacific in that they constitute up to 50 per cent of the journalist workforce. Because we rely on them for news on which we make important decisions, and because we place such high expectations on them, we should be concerned about their wellbeing as well. Female journalists’ safety is a national concern, morally and for practical reasons because it impacts directly on their mental and physical health, and subsequently, on the quality of journalism," said Dr. Singh, the 2022 Australian National University Pacific Research Fellow.

The findings of this research report highlight the high prevalence and impact of sexual harassment in the Fiji news media sector, where up to half the journalist corps are women, many of whom are leading reporters and editors in the national scene. The overall aim of this research is to measure the prevalence rate of sexual harassment experienced by female journalists in Fiji, and provide holistic recommendations to address this issue.

The report documents the lived experiences of female journalists, majority of whom work in print, with the others choosing online and/or broadcasting. According to the women, the level of harassment at both the workplace and in the reporting field is high, with up to two-thirds reporting incidents. The harassment is predominantly verbal, but also very often gestural. Physical harassment is fairly common as well. Additionally, the women indicated that the types of sexual harassment is centered on women’s dress code, appearance, and as well as crude, sexual jokes.

“This issue of sexual harassment in the workplace is not a women’s rights issue only. It is on all of us to ensure that women are able to participate in the world of work, free from violence, harassment and any form of discrimination. We must do more to support women are speaking out, and even more so when gender based violence against women is prevalent is in this country.” said FWRM Executive Director Nalini Singh.

Additionally, the report indicates the lack of awareness about sexual harassment and its impact on the victims. The lack of clarity about reporting mechanisms and redress is also a significant barrier and explains why some women choose not to report incidents. As this report argues, taking proactive steps by creating awareness is an important first step towards reducing the risks. 

“Fiji needs stronger commitment from employers to adopt and implement sexual harassment policies in their workplaces that are consistent with the Employment Relations Act. Police and justice sectors must take action.” said Ms. Nalini Singh.

The other researchers include Professor in Journalism at the University of Vienna, Folker Hanusch, USP Journalism Tutor Geradline Panapasa and Data Science lecturer Dr Karuna Reddy.

FWRM thanks the support and partnership of the USP Journalism Programme and the School of Pacific Arts, Communication and Education. We are hopeful that the findings of this research as well as existing work done will inform key action and approaches to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace for women in the world of work.

The publication is supported by the We Rise Coalition through the Australian Government.

ENDS

For more information please contact USP School of Journalism Programme Researcher Geraldine Panapasa on email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To download the research, visit: http://www.fwrm.org.fj/publications/research-analysis