Last week, Lorraine Moropa took to social media and opened up about being sexually harassed by “a male senior actor” on the set of the SABC 2 telenovela, Lithapho.
Sonke is concerned by the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in the media industry not only in South Africa but the world over. The prevalence remains largely due to the power dynamics and power relations within the industry and for this reason, Sonke would like to applaud Ms Moropa for courageously speaking out against an industry that has unevenly,unfairly and arbitrarily stacked the odds against her simply because she is a womxn.
We are, however, pleased that Quizzical Pictures has since released a statement announcing the release of Mangaliso Ngema from Lithapho – a decision that Sonke welcomes. This level of decisiveness is encouraging and exemplary as we grapple with the scourge of violence against womxn.
This is why Sonke is also calling on other production houses to not turn a blind-eye and act with the same level of decisiveness. There have been a plethora of women who have been blacklisted by the industry for speaking out on sexual harassment, this pattern cannot remain the norm.
The media industry seems to operate in a vacuum that it is devoid of clear standards of how to deal with the scourge of sexual harassment and sexual abuse. This is sharply highlighted by Ms Maropa’s reference to Ngema as a “senior male actor” in her statement. Ideally, in an industry that is for womxn, womxn should be able to name and shame their abusers without fear of any form of retribution.
The media industry’s role in society is not solely to entertain, but to educate. It is therefore disingenuous for production houses to have sexual harassment, sexual abuse, gender-based violence storylines when they do not show any ability to deal with these very same issues on set.
We call on the industry to establish clear standard operating procedures on how sexual harassment and abuse should be dealt with in the industry to show commitment to ensure accountability.
Ms Moropa – WE STAND WITH YOU, WE BELIEVE YOU, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
We hope your courage will encourage more womxn in the industry to come forward and speak out.