Commitment against violence against women*

You can see Agathonique Rurakukuza from AFJO.

Agathonique Rurakukuza, AFJO, told us about efforts to eradicate sexual harassment in the media.

SEXUAL VIOLENCE.....

The International Day Against Violence Against Women* is celebrated on November 25th every year. The goal: the elimination of gender-based violence. On the occasion of this important day, the SEZ entered into discussions with the Association des Femmes Journalistes du Burundi (AFJO).

In the midst of Burundi's media landscape, AFJO actively campaigns against sexual harassment, which continues to affect many female journalists in Burundi. The results of a survey of 2022 journalists conducted by AFJO in November 120 are shocking: 84,1% of those surveyed were identified as victims of sexual harassment. Reality shows that sexual harassment knows no boundaries and occurs in various areas of life - be it in the professional environment of the media, on public transport, in social networks or even within the family. The survey also found that 42,9% of those affected were men, while 14,3% said they were harassed by women.

Addressing this problem faces numerous challenges. In the interview, Agathonique Rurakukuza, project officer for media, peace and gender at AFJO, told us that sexual harassment is a taboo topic in Burundi. Those affected do not dare to speak publicly and report the perpetrators. The consequences of publicly denouncing can include job loss and stigmatization. The oppression of those affected by the perpetrator and the taboo nature of sexual topics also lead to silence in Burundian society. The consequences for those affected are both psychosocial and financial and range from depression to giving up their job. As a result, those affected feel uncomfortable in their work and neglect learning self-defense mechanisms.

Measures to prevent sexual harassment

However, according to Rurakukuza, the AFJO not only documented the alarming findings but also took concrete measures to effectively combat sexual harassment.
This includes awareness campaigns for both the public and journalists in particular to raise awareness of sexual harassment and its impact on employees and work. The publication of the law on the prevention and protection of those affected and the punishment of gender-based violence is a further step. Most recently, a code of conduct against harassment in the various media was introduced, which also provides for strict sanctions in addition to the statutory penalties.

The AFJO welcomes the fact that Article 46 of the Burundian press law guarantees the right of journalists to security. She also acknowledges the fact that the Burundian Ministry of Communications and Media has adopted the Gender-Sensitive Media Charter. This charter sets out a list of activities, including combating sexual harassment, that must be carried out by media managers in order to contribute to the implementation of national communications policy. This contains a separate chapter on equality between men and women in the media.

The AFJO calls on all partners to combine their efforts to eliminate this widespread phenomenon of sexual harassment.

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