PETALING JAYA: The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJM) has urged local media outlets to come up with a strong conduct policy that will protect female journalists from sexual harassment.
IoJM’s remarks came following a news portal report that politicians had sexually harassed female journalists in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Two of the eight journalists featured in the report were Malaysians.
“Given that journalists find themselves out of the office a lot, their companies must adopt strong complaint mechanisms to make sure that action is taken should they face any sexual harassment – be it from politicians or public figures.
“Having such strong standards and policies will not only protect female journalists but would also be useful in stopping those who harass journalists in other ways, including blackmail or bribery,” it said in a statement yesterday.
It stressed that politicians must be held accountable for their behaviour and attitude towards journalists.
It was imperative, it said, for editors in newsrooms and industry leaders to refrain from allowing politicians to get away with uncivilised behaviour.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) backtracked on its president Mohd Taufek Razak's earlier statement following mounting public criticism.
“We realise that the dressing and appearance of journalists should not be blamed as a cause of sexual harassment.
“We do not endorse such a stance. The union regrets the impression given by specific remarks that appeared to blame the victim,” it said in a statement signed by its president.
On Monday, Mohd Taufek was quoted by a news portal as saying that female journalists should not wear “too revealing or sexy” clothing and be mindful of their conduct.
The NUJ said it was important for victims to report such incidents and media professionals should set clear boundaries with their contacts “to reduce the risk of being placed in vulnerable situations”.
“We also urge editors and company management to be there to support their staff. Harassment is not ‘business as usual’,” it said.