• Saturday, September 13, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute | September 7, 2014 | 5 pm IST After the news of the suicide attempt of an anchor for India TV broke, sexism in news media came to the fore once more. In June this year, an India TV anchor attempted suicide by consuming poison just outside her office premises in Noida. The journalist told the police that she was being harassed by two of her colleagues. The incident soon became a full fledged PR battle, with the channel defending its senior staff, and claimed the anchor was 'lying'. But some of the accusations made by the anchor raised serious questions of how television news treats employees in general, women in particular. Read- India TV anchor suicide attempt over harassment allegations not TV news worthy? In her statement the anchor had said that she had categorically refused to entertain the channel's requests to ‘socialise’ and that is when the harassment started. Read- A TV Journalist's open letter to Indian news editors Writing for The Indian Express Eye, Amrita Dutta explores how women are treated in television news, starting with the approach that media schools have, and talking to women in the profession. “There is constant pressure to look younger, slimmer and prettier on women anchors. A woman with dental braces may be asked to go off camera but a male with gutka-stained teeth is a non-issue,” says Arfa Khanum, who has been in the profession for 14 years, working as an anchor for Sahara TV, NDTV and now Rajya Sabha TV. Dutta quotes the head of a media school as saying: “It’s the law of nature, of media, that wherever there are women, there is glamour. Koi sharm nahi hai bolne mein. In that she has an upper hand over boys, even if she is less intelligent, she will get a chance." There are however, others like Natasha Badhwar, the first camera person to be recruited by NDTV in 1995, who was supported by the management fully when she complained against a senior for molesting and harassing her.  Journalists also pointed out the difference in work culture in different television news channels when they changed jobs. In some of them, everything was fair game. You could be targeted for your personal life as well.  But many believe, newsrooms are difficult places to work in, for men and women. But there have been many cases where women have been treated shabbily, especially when it came to their personal lives, or for events like getting pregnant.  Cases of sexual harassment within the media, most times gets less coverage in the media. Akila, a reporter, joined Sun TV in December 2011 as a news anchor. She was harassed by her Editor-in-chief Raja. The case is pending in court, but Akila was fired from her job.For four months, no one was ready to recruit her. Read- For months no one was ready to employ me says anchor who filed a case of sexual harassment on Sun TV Chief Editor