Safety to me used to be just about physical safety, however that perspective has been broadened via the #RCCE2020 Training of which I am a participant. During my internship period, I faced one of what I can now say were threats but at the time, I did not understand what was happening around me, and I thought that has to happen in every working environment. The media house had so many interns that they had to do away with some interns. Just as other media houses, I thought it was to be done professionally but that did not happen! I had to play my role by doing my work perfectly and beating the deadline .I vividly remember it was on a Friday when I received I call from the company’s HR who requested me to accompany him to a business meeting in western part of Kenya.
I knew it was my chance to try talk to him and get to finish my internship period there. I was so desperate by that time. I met him but there was no meeting at all. At first, I was confused, I had travelled all the way only to attend to a ghost meeting. We had a lengthy talk and to my surprise, I was in the list of those who were next to be sent out to complete their internship elsewhere. He asked me to ‘do’ it with him and he’ll take care of the rest and I will not have to leave, failure to comply with that, I was to lose my internship. I was to not involve anyone in this deal, all because he claimed to know all my movements and where I go on weekends. I promised him to do it next weekend when I’d be prepared. That was a grand deal. Later, I received a video from him, blackmail in all sense of the word, he had recorded our conversation but had tampered with some parts, and it was about all that happened while we were together. He was to use that against me in the event I refuse to give in. I found it hard for me to concentrate with my work because I was mentally tortured, in case the video went viral, what would happen to me? What about people’s perspective towards me as a journalist? Would any company accept me after what was said to be seducing?
That made me open my eyes, I realised that being a female should not leave you at the mercy of those influential men to take advantage of you, to see you as a useless being in the society as I have encountered in the Safety for journalists course modules and live mentoring sessions. I quit the internship after working there for just a month, it was painful by then since I had struggled to get that position. Luckily, a week later I found another place where I continued with the internship.
Women tend to go through a lot in places of work for promotions, to secure their jobs but you don’t have to lower your dignity to get that job or keep that job as my Trainer Vicensia Fuko says. These things do happen because we fear exposing them, we need to learn to speak out! Which on the other hand, can put you at a risk, you might receive death threats and your social media accounts hacked! For my safety, I had to relocate, change the routes and I no longer went where he used to have known on weekends.
My advice to fellow female journalists based off what I have learnt from Ms. Fuko is this, no story is worth your life. If you’re working in any organisation, ensure your safety is first catered for especially in this time of Covid 19 where our safety is paramount. Also, for a company to be productive, it should first prioritize its members regardless of their gender or the position they occupy. They are all working for the company’s betterment.
Thank you so much AWIM, you made me open my mind and one of my secrets. Your platform is awesome, and you have great trainers, who have helped female journalists feel comfortable sharing their stories, making them feel safer, both online and offline. I am immensely grateful to my trainer on safety for journalists, Ms. Vicensia Fuko, who have helped me develop a deeper understanding of our safety as journalists. Again, Kudos AWIM for this great training.