Jakarta. Indonesia’s Alliance of Independent Journalists, or AJI, and Malaysia’s Gerakan Media Merdeka, or Geramm, urged for better treatment toward journalists after a recent report revealed allegations of sexual harassment by elected government officials against female reporters in three Southeast Asian countries.
Last week, the Asian Correspondent published a report detailing the experiences of eight female journalists from Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines who were sexually harassed while on the job.
In the report, several journalists said they have had to deal with unwanted sexual advances ranging from text messages, forced physical contact and dinner invitations, and were told to "capitalize" on the situation by their work superiors in order "to get a scoop."
In a joint statement received by the Jakarta Globe on Monday (22/01), AJI and Geramm said that sexual harassment against journalists has been ignored for a long time, considered unimportant and normalized as part of common interactions between journalists and their sources.
"The blurred line of what constitutes sexual harassment by a source should be clearly drawn and to ensure that there are appropriate channels for such matters to be addressed," the organizations said in the statement.
They touched on the possibility of educating media organizations and journalist groups on what constitutes sexual harassment and how to handle resolving those situations should they occur.
"In addition, clear and just conduct in the form of law should be looked upon by the powers that be, as sexual harassment especially against women is widespread in the region as well," AJI and Geramm said.
The press freedom advocates also demanded respect toward journalists on duty and said that the issue of sexual harassment should be addressed holistically.