We are reading and seeing of new reports about death, violence, rape, abuse and harassment against women on TVs, newspapers and radios every day. Have you ever thought while reading who did that news? Are the women journalists encountering such incidents, what do they feel while they are writing that news?
While I was writing this article, I read a news about the lawsuit brought by a journalist woman, who worked at a local radio station in Bursa, after she was raped. Court of appeal sentenced each defendant to 23 years in prison whereas the local court had released them. Now the case is at High Court of Appeal.
Women constitute 38.6 percent of the journalists working in the sector. One-third of the members of Journalists’ Union of Turkey (TGS) are women. The rate of women in the sector and of organization is not that high. This rate doesn’t change much as well when we look at their workplaces one by one in particular. There is no woman editor-in-chief in nation-wide media outlets in Turkey. Their number is quite few in decision making mechanisms.
Journalists’ Union of Turkey has taken steps, though not enough yet, about this matter. The amendment made in by-law at General Assembly in 2013 read, “For TGS, grassroots having a say and opinion in all union activities, all sorts of equality starting from women-men equality, democracy and democratic rule of being ensures and protected are fundamental principles. It fights all sort of violence (harassment, beating, mobbing, etc.) and discrimination against women and it generates policies. Determinant votes are women’s votes in conflicts that arise during the practice of these policies. Maximum effort is shown for women’s representation in delegation elections, in every organ of the union, in all decision-making mechanism, general assembly and commission. (…) [The union] puts in effort to resolve issues of LGBTI workers, take positive discriminatory measures to resolves the issues of these workers who are subjected to discrimination, and form commissions for that purpose”.
Even though there was some resistance by some men and women during the debates on the clauses, it was achieved to a large extent. The most frequent objections were, “Why do we discriminate? If women don’t want to be executives, these quotas will be obstacles before us. Are we going to deal with this while journalists have more pressing issues?” When we didn’t take a step back from these matters, the amendment has been actualized.
Women have constituted 50 percent of Headquarters, Ankara and İzmir branch administrations, and 40 percent of İstanbul branch. Quota of workplace representative was rendered in line with 50 percent. TGS Women and LGBTI Commission have been formed. The TGS puts in effort to address women journalists’ issues separately by means of this commission. Even though it is not at an adequate level, it has been a huge step for the TGS.
TGS is the only union at which a woman serves as chair among the unions operating under Confederation of Turkish-Labor. Indeed, this is not enough. A woman serving as chair only once in its 65-year old history is neither acceptable nor explainable for the TGS. Showing extra effort for women journalists to take place in administrations, the TGS has to continue its efforts for women to serve chair as well.
As a male chair, let me say this ingeniously that I’ve put in an extraordinary effort for a woman to serve as chair of the TGS. Then I realized that it wouldn’t be possible without solving women journalists’ issues in their daily and professional lives. Our friends whom we offered chair having children and their work tempo being high became an obstacle. It is difficult to take solid steps for fathers and especially mothers as long as a state that doesn’t protect children continues to exist. I’ve experienced this as a father of a 15-month-old girl. We just managed to solve the problem of finding babysitter by her aunt seeing the violence on TV imposed by a babysitter!
The sentences “Child is waiting at home, I need to pick up her/him” are usually voiced by women journalists. I haven’t seen a male journalist saying “I need to look after my child home” in my term over 5 years. This is not very different for me either. I have the obligation to look after only at the weekends. These are some of the steps taken and need to be taken by TGS.
When we turn to the sector, we see that the discrimination faced by women journalists just because they are ‘women’ has no limits. They are mostly subjected to the violence and discrimination of their colleagues and superiors. Do not ever think that there is no place for such things in the lives of learned, educated people. These things do indeed happen.
The biggest problem of women journalists is that the sector is becoming more and more masculine. Have you ever seen a woman camera operator or how many have you ever met? Or do you think that the women reporters and presenters are happy with the obligation to do makeup everyday so as to bind their audience to the screen? These are the stories of women journalists that we have talked in person. And there is also their fear of being fired from their jobs. Even though there is not a dramatic difference between the wages of women and men journalists who do the same job, women journalists are sacrificed more easily. Why?
1- Marriage: Managers do not view the marriage of women and men in the same manner. When it is a woman who gets married, the condition that “she will give birth anyway” is put forward. And there are also flexible working hours and trips to other cities. Managers assume that women cannot stay in the sector. But is it the case for men, too? No matter when the news will be reported, men can go, but women cannot. Men can go out of town, but women cannot. Most of the time, women journalists do not get married so as not to leave their professions.
2- Children: Another important topic is having children. The manager has already put women at the head of the list considering the maternity leave, illnesses and breast-feeding permits. Let’s say the woman journalist has started working after her maternity leave. Will she be able to stand the flexible working hours? The answer is no. Woman journalist has already been pushed out of the sector. She has raised her child with difficulty and now it is time to find a kindergarten. We know how much money the journalists in the sector gain. Woman is forced into saying that “Instead of giving all this money to a kindergarten or a babysitter, I will raise my child myself.” There is already a problem of kindergarten in private sector; it is of more considerable importance for women journalists. For women journalists, having a child = becoming unemployed.
Lastly, I would like to address the situation of women interns. There is exploitation in every sector, everybody is subjected to exploitation in one way or another, but the situation of women interns in media sector is different. They graduate from the faculties of communication by being told, “In this sector, forget about tea-coffee, you will be a slave to your boss and editor.”
An intern who hears such a statement says “OK” to whatever she is told and does whatever she is asked, she has to. The rates of unemployment in the media sector are already high. And now does her professional life come to an end before even starting to work? Of course, her professional life should not end, but it is not clear how long this period will last. Women journalists experience harassment the most during their internship periods. They are subjected to the harassment of almost all of her male colleagues, ranging from the reporters, chiefs and managers.
Journalists’ Union of Turkey Women and LGBTI Commission conducted a survey in the last weeks where the women journalists participated. The results of the survey have shown:
*6 out of every 10 women journalists in Turkey say, “I face/d discrimination in my professional life because of my gender.”
*55 percent of women journalists state that they are not paid the same as men journalists for the same job.
*87 percent of them are of the opinion that having a child has affected / might affect their professional lives negatively.
*60 percent of them say that they are subjected to psychological violence and mobbing. The ones who inflict violence on women journalists the most are respectively their managers and colleagues.
When we leave behind the March 8 week, the statements of the women journalists who participated in this survey will also be an occasion for the readers to question themselves one more time...(GD/APA/TK/SD)
52 MEN 52 WEEKS
"This campaign has been produced as part of Sivil Düşün EU Programme, with the support of European Union. The contents of this campaign are the sole responsibility of IPS Communication Foundation/ bianet and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.
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