South Africa News

Gender-based violence: No to on-set harassment

The days when women would be improperly touched or spoken to in a sexually denigrating way on set may be coming to an end, if the male-dominated film industry adheres to the code of conduct for good practice.

With South Africa today marking the start of the United Nations annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children, gender-based violence (GBV) experts yesterday told a webinar about the impact of the scourge in the local film industry.

This has led to the launch of the code of good conduct for good practice, with production houses forced to abide by it.

On progress the film industry was making in dealing with GBV, Londeka Mlawuza, board member of Sisters Working in Film and Television, said: “We are advocating a safe working environment – free from sexual harassment, discrimination, an environment of equality and pay parity.

“We have found that sexual harassment or GBV has become the barrier to women being treated equally or moving up the ranks in the industry.

“Sisters Working in Film and Television created the code of conduct for good practice, which affects everyone involved in the industry-government, film producers and suppliers.”

The document is in the form of a booklet – meant to educate – provided by the Sisters Working in Film and Television board chair Zanele Mthembu’s team, pushing everyone into line to pledge to stamp out all forms of GBV in the film industry, said Mlawuza.

“With some people still not understanding what sexual harassment is, the document is meant to educate,” added Mlawuza.

“Production companies and employers are called upon to appoint contact safety officers who are trained to legally deal with matters when they arise.

“Sisters Working in Film and Television has advocated for industry bodies and the government to sign a pledge in supporting production houses and freelancers coming to your doorsteps, on condition that they have signed the code of conduct.”

On how rife GBV was in the film industry, Sisters Working in Film and Television board chair Zanele Mthembu referred to results of a survey conducted by the organization in 2017, which revealed that: Of 81 women surveyed, 23% claimed they were non-consensually touched while working in the industry.

-The Citizen

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