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THE PASTOR WHO WAS A MUSLIM

Today I want to sail the choppy seas. I'm fully aware that were I in another country, this article would earn me death threats. Or worse. But, at least for now, I think I'm pretty safe. Few of my readership might know that I used to be a Muslim. Yes, right now I'm an all out, take no prisoners, cotton spittin', fire and brimstone preachin', Bible totin' preacher! The complete opposite of the Muslim I once was. In another country, under strict Islamic law, a turncoat like me would be sent to meet his Maker. But what exactly happened? Are we not worshipping the same God?


While some similarities exist between Islam and Christianity (they are both monotheistic religions, for example), their differences are clear-cut, significant, and irreconcilable. For this article, we will survey four key areas: the founders of the two religions, the contrasting views of God, the sacred literature, and the means of salvation. We will see that Islam differs from Christianity in each of those four areas. I should know. I've lived both world views. I've not just read but followed both, with equal passion. I was not a nominal Muslim.


Through the gospel of Jesus Christ, God offers—and true disciples of Jesus have received—that which everyone in the world, including every Muslim, needs and many long for: forgiveness for their sins, a loving heavenly Father with whom they can communicate personally, and assurance that eternal happiness awaits them beyond this life. The key to witnessing to a Muslim is getting him to understand that Islam does not offer these things and that Christianity most certainly does. In fact, Christianity is the only religion that does. â€¨â€¨Muslims use much of the same terminology that appears in the Bible: sin, salvation, heaven, hell, one God, law, and punishment. What is missing from their lexicon is the word “savior.”

The Muslim does not believe that he needs a savior because he believes he alone must atone for his sin by his works. Islam teaches that man is born sinless and, therefore, does not have a sin nature from which he needs to be saved. His sinlessness was corrupted by external influences and can, therefore, be ‘cleaned up’ by works and efforts that please Allah. The Qur’an tells the Muslim that his good deeds can cancel out his bad deeds (Sura 11:114), but no one knows how many good deeds are enough. Muslims believe they can ask Allah for forgiveness from sins, but Allah may or may not forgive them. There is, therefore (and this is the key), no assurance of salvation for Muslims. 



Muslims believe one must be sorry for sin and repent of it, but the idea that payment for sin is required by a holy God is not part of Islam. It’s important to begin with the idea that being sorry for sin will not help the Muslim when he stands before a holy God on Judgment Day. Ask the Muslim if a murderer will be allowed to go free if he says he’s sorry in court. Most Muslims would agree that if the judge is a good man, he must make sure justice is done. Being sorry won’t keep the murderer out of prison. Then ask the Muslim if he believes he will go to heaven.

Muslims believe in the Law of Moses, so ask if he has kept each one of the commandments perfectly. Once he admits he has lied at some time in his life or lusted after a woman in his heart, ask him, if an earthly judge can’t pardon a murderer just because he is sorry, how can Allah forgive him when he has just admitted to being a liar and/or an adulterer in his heart. If he’s at all honest, he will admit this is impossible. At this point, you can say that God made it possible for him to go to heaven even though he can’t get there on his own. Preach Jesus Christ as our substitute for sin, our Savior from sins we cannot atone for ourselves, but do not say that He was the Son of God or allude to the Trinity as these ideas are anathema to Muslims. â€¨â€¨

Again, the key to witnessing to Muslims is their lack of assurance. Islam teaches that Allah was the source of both the Bible and the Qur’an, so they are willing to listen to passages from the Bible. Passages that speak to the wickedness of man’s heart ( Psalm 14:1-3; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:9-18), the holiness of God ( Exodus 15:11; 1 Samuel 2:2; Joshua 24:19; Psalm 93:5) and His hatred for sin ( Deuteronomy 25:16; Proverbs 6:16-19) will drive home the need for a Savior.

As long as the Muslim believes he can atone for sin himself, the message of the gospel will be foolishness to him. If he comes to understand that “no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law” ( Romans 3:20), the door is open for the light of the gospel to shine in his heart. â€¨â€¨Of course, no one comes to the knowledge of the truth solely by good apologetics.

The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit because they are spiritually discerned ( 1 Corinthians 2:14), and the Holy Spirit is the only one who can open the eyes of the spiritually blind. Therefore, any witnessing efforts should be bathed in prayer that hearts and minds will be opened so that when we speak the truth in love to a Muslim, it may please the Lord to grant him or her salvation through Jesus Christ.

Islam and Christianity: Founders of the Religions

Islam was founded by an Arab merchant named Muhammed about AD 622. Muhammed claimed to have received a revelation from an angel of God, and, although he initially feared his revelation had come from Satan, Muhammed later claimed to be the last and greatest of all of God’s prophets. Muhammed had fifteen wives (although he limited other men to four wives apiece) and sanctioned the beating of wives (Sura 4:34).

Muhammed was well known for spreading his new religion by force. He commanded, “Fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them” (Sura 9:5), and he specified the proper way to execute an unbeliever was to cut his throat (Sura 47:4). Muhammed led raids against caravans to plunder their goods, broke oaths, ordered the murder of those who mocked him, and wiped out the last Jewish tribe in Medina—he killed all the men and enslaved the women and children. Interestingly, Muhammed acknowledged his own need to seek God’s forgiveness on occasion (Sura 40:55).



In stark contrast to the moral depravity of Muhammed, Jesus Christ was above reproach in every way ( 2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus never married, He defended and honored women ( John 8:1–11), and His law was “love one another” ( John 13:34). Accordingly, Jesus never assassinated anyone, never beat a woman, never enslaved a child, never broke a promise, and never plundered a caravan. On the cross, when Jesus was mocked by those nearby, His response was, “Father, forgive them” ( Luke 23:34).



Islam and Christianity: Views of God

Islam teaches that Allah, or God, is the sovereign Creator and Ruler of all that is. Muslims emphasize God’s absolute unity, which will admit of no division, and God’s will. In fact, the will of God is more basic to who He is than His love or mercy. God could choose not to be merciful, and He can choose not to love; thus, Allah’s mercy and love are not intrinsic to His nature but are choices He makes. More important than loving God—or even knowing Him—is submitting to His will.

The word Islam means “submission.” According to Islam, God cannot be considered a “father” and He has no son. Allah does not love sinners (Surah 3:140).

Similar to Islam, Christianity teaches that God is the sovereign Creator and Ruler of all that is—but that is about where the similarity ends. Christians believe in one God who exists in three eternal, co-equal Persons (Father, Son, and Spirit) who share the same indivisible essence.

According to Christianity, God loves because His very nature is love ( 1 John 4:8)—not just because He happens to choose to love. God’s essence includes the attribute of mercy, so divine displays of mercy are more than choices God makes; they are extensions of His character. God is knowable and desires a relationship with us based on love ( Mark 12:30). Obeying God is important, but obedience without a relationship based on love is worthless (1 Corinthians 13:3).

According to Christianity, God the Father has an eternal relationship with God the Son. God does love sinners ( Romans 5:8).

Islam and Christianity: Sacred Literature

Islam holds that the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament), the Psalms, and the Gospels were given by God—with this caveat: Jews and Christians have corrupted God’s Word and therefore Bibles cannot be fully trusted. Muslims believe that God’s final Word, the Qur’an, was miraculously given to Muhammed over a period of twenty-three years. The Qur’an, which is perfect and holy, is divided into 114 chapters called suras. In addition to the Qur’an, the Muslims have the Hadith, a collection of Muhammed’s sayings, opinions, and actions as reported by those close to him.



Biblical Christianity holds that the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are God’s inspired Word and the only authoritative rule of faith and practice. The Bible warns against adding to God’s Word ( Revelation 22:18); Christians reject the Qur’an as an attempted addition to God’s Word and as a document that contradicts the Bible in many ways.

Islam and Christianity: Means of Salvation

Islam teaches a works-based salvation and in this way is similar to other man-made religions.

A Muslim must keep the five pillars of Islam: he must confess the shahadah (“there is no God but Allah, and Muhammed is his prophet”); he must kneel in prayer toward Mecca five times a day; he must fast during the daylight hours one month of the year (Ramadan); he must give money to the poor; and he must make a pilgrimage to Mecca sometime in his lifetime. Islam teaches that the day of judgment will involve a person’s good and bad deeds being weighed in a balance—so the standard for judgment is one’s own actions (Surah 7:8-9; 21:47). The Qur’an forbids anyone from bearing another’s burden of sin (Surah 17:15; 35:18) and pointedly denies the death of Jesus (or Isa) on the cross (Surah 3:55; 4:157–158). If you will be saved, you must save yourself.


A Muslim may love Allah and wish to please Allah, but the question in his mind will invariably be “is it enough? Are my works enough to merit salvation?” Christians believe that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to provide an answer to the question “is my work enough?” The answer is, no, our work is not enough ( Matthew 5:48). This is shocking to anyone who has been trying on his own to appease God.

But this was the point of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount ( Matthew 5:1–48). The Jews that Jesus spoke to, just like the Muslims who follow Allah, were trapped by the knowledge that nothing they did would ever meet God’s perfect standard. But Christ’s perfect life, atoning death, and resurrection did meet God’s standard ( Hebrews 10:10; Romans 8:1–8). Jesus’ message to the Jews and His message now, to Muslims and everyone else, is “repent and believe” ( Mark 1:15).

This does not mean “stop sinning” and “believe that God exists.” It means “turn from sin and stop trying to please God by your own ability” and “believe that Christ has accomplished everything for you.” The promise to those who trust Christ is that they will become the children of God ( John 1:12).

Allah offers no such promise. Muslims believe Allah will be merciful to them based on his evaluation of their performance. But salvation is never sure; it is never a promise. When the Western world looks with horror on things like jihad and acts of Islamic terrorism, they get a glimpse of the powerful fear that Allah instills in his many of his followers.

Faithful Muslims are faced with a terrible choice: obey the violent commands of an omnipotent deity whose mercy is given only to the most passionate and devoted followers (and perhaps not even then), or give themselves up as hopelessly lost and headed for punishment.

Christians should not regard Muslims with hatred, but instead with compassion. Their god, Allah, is a false god, and their eyes are blinded to the truth (see 2 Corinthians 4:4).

We should be praying for Muslims and asking God to show them the truth, revealing His promise of mercy and freedom in Christ ( 2 Timothy 2:24–26).

Christianity teaches a grace-based salvation. A person is saved by the grace (the undeserved blessing) of God, through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ ( Ephesians 2:8–9; Romans 10:9–10). The standard for judgment is absolute perfection—the righteousness of Christ.

No one can measure up to perfection ( Romans 3:23), but God in His grace and mercy has given His Son as the substitute for our sin: “When you were dead in your sins . . . God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross”  Colossians 1:13–14). We cannot save ourselves, so we turn to Christ, our sinless Savior and the author and finisher of our faith Hebrews 12:2).


The Muslim and Christian views of God have some similarities. Christians believe in one eternal God Who created the universe, and Muslims apply these attributes to Allah. Both view God as all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present. â€¨â€¨A vital difference between the Islamic and Christian views of God is the biblical concept of the Trinity.

In the Bible, God has revealed Himself as one God in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. While each Person of the Trinity is fully God, God is not three gods but three in one. â€¨â€¨God’s Son came in the form of man, a truth called the incarnation ( Luke 1:30-35; John 1:14; Colossians 2:9; 1 John 4:1-3).

The Lord Jesus Christ conquered the penalty and power of sin by dying on the cross Romans 6:23). After rising from the dead, Jesus went back to heaven to be with His Father and sent the Holy Spirit to believers Acts 1:8-11). One day, Christ will return to judge and rule Acts 10:42,43). Those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus will live with Him, but those who refuse to follow Him must be separated in hell from the holy God. 



“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” John 3:35-36). Either Jesus bears the wrath of God for your sin on the cross or you bear the wrath of God for your sin in hell 1 Peter 2:24).

The Trinity is essential to the Christian faith. Without the Trinity, there would be no incarnation of God’s Son in the Person of Jesus Christ. Without Jesus Christ, there would be no salvation from sin. Without salvation, sin would condemn all to an eternal hell.



So, do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? A better question is, “Do Christians and Muslims both have a correct understanding of who God is?” To this question, the answer is definitely no. Because of crucial differences between the Christian and Muslim concepts of God, the two faiths cannot both be true. The biblical God alone addresses and solves the problem of sin by giving His Son. Allah does no such thing; fundamentally because he doesn't have a son to give. â€¨â€¨“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son”  John 3:16-18).

Islam and Christianity, having different beliefs on essential doctrines such as God, Jesus, Scripture, and salvation, are irreconcilable. Both religions cannot be true. We believe that Jesus Christ, as presented in the Bible, is the true Son of God and Savior of mankind. “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” John 1:17).

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Botswana to Become a Vaccinated Nation: Pandemic Anxiety Over?

30th March 2021

OSCAR MOTSUMI

This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.

The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.

The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.

Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.

We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.

More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.

The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the  market.

Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.

We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us  succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?

Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?

Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?

They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?

What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?

They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?

We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?

To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?

Batswana must be made aware that the  end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.

For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with  the arduous imperative of  analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.

Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.

Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the  mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute  in Botswana is overdue.

If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.

Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.

*Oscar Motsumi: Email:oscar.motsumi@gmail.com

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The women you see in the news matter. Here’s why

9th March 2021
Jane Godia

Jane Godia

Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.

Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are
Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication

Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.

Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.

Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.

Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.

The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.

So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.

The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.

We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.

They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.

As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.

Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme.  
WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org

Jane Godia, Director, Africa, Women in News

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Why is the media so afraid to talk about sexual harassment?

9th March 2021

MELANIE WALKER

The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.

As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.

I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.

I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?

Counting the cost of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.

It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.

Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.

The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.

Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.

By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.

Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org

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