DON’T LOOK AWAY

Jour­nal­ists tell of be­ing chat­ted up, groped and even threat­ened with rape while on as­sign­ment

Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - MARVIN CHARLES [email protected]

IN JUNE, in the mid­dle of a crowd of foot­ball fans in Saransk, Rus­sia, Juli­eth Gon­za­lez Theran, a tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ist from Colom­bia cov­er­ing the World Cup in Rus­sia, was broad­cast­ing live when a fan jumped into frame and, grin­ning broadly, grabbed her breast, kissed her cheek, and then ran away.

Gon­za­lez Theran kept on re­port­ing even while she was be­ing groped, re­fus­ing to even ac­knowl­edge the in­ci­dent.

It sparked a global move­ment called #LetHerWork, which seeks to high­light the sex­ual ha­rass­ment fe­male jour­nal­ists of­ten face.

It’s no dif­fer­ent in South Africa, as fe­male re­porters are sub­jected to sex­ual ha­rass­ment every day.

Award-win­ning EWN broad­cast jour­nal­ist Monique Mort­lock re­calls cov­er­ing many dan­ger­ous ser­vice de­liv­ery protests.

“I was cov­er­ing a protest in Hang­berg last year. I went with my male col­league. Usu­ally while we cover these protests, we tend to run to­wards the bul­lets, we run where the ac­tion is but at this spe­cific protest we were run­ning away from the ac­tion.

“Pro­test­ers were throw­ing petrol bombs and po­lice were mov­ing in. I was busy on my phone fil­ing a story when I was told by some op­por­tunis­tic crim­i­nals who took ad­van­tage of the chaos: ‘Sit daai foon weg of ons f** jou op’ (Put that phone away, or we will f*** you up),” she said.

Mort­lock didn’t take much note of the com­ment un­til later.

“I was then do­ing a live in­ter­view on The John Maytham Show. As I was on the phone, one guy grabbed my arm and told me ‘Ek gaan nie vir jou weer warn nie’ (I’m not go­ing to warn you again) and one of his bud­dies told me ‘Sit daai weg of ons rape jou’ (put that away or else we will rape you),” she said.

That scared her.

“But this man de­lib­er­ately wanted to use his power over me as a big man to let me know that he could hurt me in more ways than one and in the most bru­tal, sex­u­alised way pos­si­ble,” she said.

SABC par­lia­men­tary re­porter Abra Bar­bier said she had been sex­u­ally harassed by lead­ers of the coun­try.

“In 2006 I was cov­er­ing an MEC and his body­guard al­ways made lit­tle side com­ments and he came up to me and told me: ‘I like your boots. I can tell you are the kind of women that likes to be in charge,’ ” she said.

“It was the way that he said it, it gave me the creeps, and when you hang around those cir­cles of MECs and MPs there’s a cer­tain amount of power men have,” she said.

Bar­bier has been a jour­nal­ist for more than 20 years. “The cor­ri­dors of Par­lia­ment are ab­so­lutely un­safe, not only for fe­male jour­nal­ists but for any pretty young thing. I have been hit on by many MPs from var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal par­ties,” she said.

Even the chief whip of a party made a brazen re­mark.

“It was a very cold day and I was about to in­ter­view a chief whip and I was wear­ing a thick coat, and he didn’t even care that my col­league was present. He tells me: ‘You look so cute and cozy in this jacket, I wish that I can just jump in with you.’ ”

For­mer eNCA re­porter Aarti Narsee said: “Be­ing on TV while I was work­ing at eNCA, peo­ple would see you of­ten and ask you all type of ques­tions and sex­u­alise your body.

“It made me feel an­gry and ob­jec­ti­fied. An­gry in a sense that I was not be­ing re­spected as a pro­fes­sional.”

She is now study­ing in the UK at the Lon­don School of Eco­nomics, do­ing an MSc in Gen­der, Pol­icy and In­equal­ity.

JULI­ETH Gon­za­lez Theran, a Columbian tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ist, was groped while re­port­ing on the World Cup in Rus­sia, but kept right on with her broad­cast..

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