MIRPUR (AJK)-The Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) has called upon the country’s media to help ensure safe working environment for female staff at workplaces.

The PPF lamented that females are just a five percent of workforce in Pakistani media compared to over 25 percent for the Asia Pacific region. The PPF called on media organisations including Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS) and Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) to encourage and facilitate their members to ensure the creation of the committees which would promote the sense of security for their female staff members and encourage other women to enter the profession.

The media organisations should also facilitate implementation of Code of Conduct at workplace against sexual harassment by all print, electronic and online media outlets. “Women are even rarer in corporate and editorial boards, or in positions of authority such as editors, bureau chiefs, director news, chief reporters, etc. On television, female anchors and talk show hosts are relegated to the ‘soft’ morning shows and a few women are given the opportunity to host prime time current affairs programmes,” it said.

It added that gender balance is also missing in unions and press clubs, although some do reserve one seat for female members.

According to a research on Pakistani media by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), one in five females has personally experienced sexual harassment at the workplace. Three out of every four women sexually harassed simply do not report the incidents because of absent or ineffective grievance redressal mechanism and fear of reprisals or social stigma,” it said.

It observed sexual predators especially target the most vulnerable female staff members and it is necessary for their employers to provide a safe and secure working environment for all female employees. The safety challenges faced by women employees in media organisations in Pakistan cover a range of physical, mental and emotional threats, intimidation and attempts to tarnish the reputation of the victim. These acts include inappropriate sexual advances, touching or groping, standing inappropriately close to female colleagues, staring and ogling. Other common forms of sexual harassment include spreading of innuendos, inappropriate comments, obscene conversations and jokes, obscene SMS messages and phone calls.