The Editors Guild of India on Tuesday condemned the “predatory conduct” of some journalists against their female colleagues after several senior journalists and media professionals were accused of sexual harassment and misconduct.
“The Editors Guild of India has noted with concern and dismay the incidence of alleged sexual harassment and assault on women journalists by their male colleagues,” it said in a statement. “It unequivocally condemns all predatory conduct by such men. It is worse when the perpetrators also happen to be enjoying senior or supervisory positions in the profession.”
The guild expressed solidarity with women journalists “who have displayed the courage to bring these critical issues in public debate” and extended its total support. It said it was also committed to ensuring the legal rights of complainants or the accused are not violated.
The guild also called upon media organisations to hold unbiased inquiries. “This is the time for all of us to strengthen our internal processes,” it added.
Here is the full text of the Editors Guild statement:
The Editors Guild of India has noted with concern and dismay the incidence of alleged sexual harassment and assault on women journalists by their male colleagues. It unequivocally condemns all predatory conduct by such men. It is worse when the perpetrators also happen to be enjoying senior or supervisory positions in the profession.
The Guild also expresses 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.
It calls upon the media organisations to hold unbiased inquiries into all reported cases. This is the time for all of us to strengthen our internal processes. It includes training of staff and improving awareness, as mandated by the law and even beyond. Anybody found guilty of sexual harassment or assault should be punished as provided in the law.
The newsroom is the most inclusive work space in terms of gender. It is our responsibility as media leaders to ensure that it remains safe and fair for all, especially women.
#MeToo campaign in India
The #MeToo movement has gained widespread support in India with several women, including journalists, taking to social media to give detailed accounts of the sexual harassment and misconduct they faced. The campaign has taken the media fraternity by storm as several senior journalists, writers and media professionals have been accused of misconduct.
Former Hindustan Times political editor Prashant Jha, actor Rajat Kapoor, Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah, Union minister and former journalist MJ Akbar, stand-up comedian Utsav Chakraborty and author Chetan Bhagat are among those who have been accused of sexual misconduct in the past few days.
Some women also posted on Twitter about journalist Mayank Jain, a reporter at Business Standard who formerly worked at Scroll.in and BloombergQuint. Jain has yet to respond to queries regarding these allegations.
In view of the statements of women who have made public their experiences of Mayank Jain’s misconduct, we at Scroll in the spirit of fair disclosure would like to state that Mayank Jain worked for Scroll from October 15, 2014 to October 30, 2016, and then from June 12, 2017 to December 31, 2017.
A woman employee informally and verbally brought to the attention of a member of the internal complaints committee (ICC) at Scroll an instance of sexually inappropriate online behaviour by Mayank Jain in 2017. The employee, however, did not want to pursue the matter through a formal written complaint, without which no formal inquiry can be initiated. Despite this, the ICC took serious note of the matter and served a written warning to Mayank Jain, reminding him of Scroll’s strict policies prohibiting sexual harassment.
We, at Scroll, commit to continuing to better understand women’s experiences at the workplace and evolve further processes that may be required to prevent, acknowledge and respond to work cultures that are not enabling for women.