Sexual abuse is big in SA TV and film

SURVEY: Woman abuse in the South African entertainment industry is shockingly high according to a report. PICTURE: THANDO THABETHE CAMPAIGN

A survey conducted by Sisters Working in Film and Television (Swift) says 77.8% of women in the industry have been discriminated against on the basis of their gender.

Right on time for the Women’s Month celebrations, the survey became the focal point of discussions at the UJ Bunting Road campus on Saturday. Among the panellists was actress and social activist Florence Masebe, National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) CEO Zama Nkosi, television producer Anneke Villet and a host of other female leaders who tackled a variety of issues affecting female filmmakers.

The talk also saw the launch of #ThatsNotOk campaign, which culminated in a short film, The Line Producer, which serves to highlight the plight of female film and television industry workers who face sexual harassment on a daily basis.

Masebe said the reason perpetrators get away with sexual harassment was because not many women have the power to report these cases.

“Women get abused and sexually harassed by everybody from the assistant director to the top star male actor whose clothes they have to deliver to the dressing room and they will not be able to walk up and say, ‘you have just touched me’, because they are afraid that they are going to get fired,” she said.

She also pledged to take the issues to the attention of the government where she serves as adviser to the deputy minister in the presidency for planning, monitoring and evaluation, Buti Manamela.

SABC head of religion Yashika Singh urged female leaders to take sexual harassment seriously and become architects of change.

“This is not just an industry issue but reflects the state of our society at large. We can’t sit on the sidelines and watch our sisters suffer at the wrath of men,” she said.

NFVF head Nkosi said that female filmmakers were vulnerable and that their job titles and roles did not prevent them from being targets.

The panellists also urged women to share their stories in order to help to spread the word and make the industry recognise women’s issues on film and television sets.