STATEMENT ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE FILM INDUSTRY

The Independent Producers Organisa4on (IPO) believes that everyone has the right to work in a professional atmosphere that promotes equal employment opportunities and prohibits unlawful discriminatory practices, including harassment. This applies especially to sexual harassment. We therefore expect members to take all reasonable steps to create awareness and maintain an environment which is free from sexual harassment, and to ensure that all relationships amongst persons in the workplace, including but not limited to;auditions, pre-and post production offices and on set, are business-like and free of bias, prejudice and harassment.

We are therefore deeply concerned by the numerous allegations of sexual harassment and rape against Khalo Matabane, (who is NOT a member of the IPO). We trust that “due process” will prevail and that the rule of law will apply the highest sanction if he is found guilty. It would be remiss of us, however, not to acknowledge that there is a low confidence index in “due process” and that the #MeToo, #TimesUp and SWIFT’s #ThatsNotOk movements have highlighted the legitimacy of alternative outlets. These campaigns have emerged to put pressure on industry and legal process to step up to the demand for safe and expeditious recourse and we urge industry and the law to respond with the urgency that this harassment scourge deserves.

We also wish to acknowledge and make clear to industry that we know these acts of harassment tend to happen in watershed areas and times of our workspace. Ours is not a 9am-5pm industry and therefore everyone is bound to professional codes of conduct as set out by the SWIFT code of conduct and in our constitution no matter the time or place- there is no excuse and we uphold a zero-tolerance policy for these cases. 

James Baldwin wrote, “The victim who is able to articulate the situation of the victim has ceased to be a victim: he or she has become a threat.” Coming forward is a necessary precondition to becoming an instrument of change. Incidents, regardless of the offender’s identity or position, should be reported promptly so that rapid and constructive action can be taken. We applaud those who have had the courage to stand up: may their courage be rewarded with perpetrators facing real consequences.

This high-profile case has drawn attention to the scourge of sexual harassment in the industry: this is not just about an individual, but rather about a prevailing culture in our industry and society where those in power, especially males, feel they can get away with committing these outrageous and often violent acts. We encourage discussion and dialogue about this disturbing phenomenon and are committed to engaging with our membership and the industry in general, to finding ways to make us all understand that this is not acceptable behaviour, and to help clarify what is, and what is not considered to be harassment.

It is clear that guidelines must be established so that the onus and responsibility is placed squarely on would-be perpetrators to act professionally at all times, whilst at the same time providing guidance to production companies to safely and responsibly link industry with legal recourses in the unfortunate event of an incident. In line with our commitment to establishing due process, where it has often failed to exist, we applaud SWIFT for their safety contact campaign and comprehensive Code of Conduct and encourage all stakeholders to embrace it. The IPO Respectful Workplace Policy was put in place in 2017, and is available on the IPO website at http://ipo.org.za/respeccul-workplace-code-conductsigned/

Furthermore, we will inculcate the following Codes of Conduct, developed by SWIFT, as an addendum to existing contractual agreements between production company and cast/ crew:

  • Company Pledge (to be signed to desist and refrain from harassing or aiding to harass another member of cast or crew)
  • Definition of Sexual Harassment (to be signed as an acknowledgement of understanding of the contents)
  • Incident Report Guidelines

Whilst we appreciate that the issue of Sexual Harassment is a psycho-socio-occupational complexity, we believe this is a good start to bridge the gap between incident and legal recourse and will give producers some ammunition to support victims. We will continue to work hand in hand with other SASFED member organizations to bring about cultural change for safe working environments.

 

For Further comment

Lwazi Manzi 0826788979 – IPO Co-Chair

Rehad Desai 083 997 9204 – IPO Co-Chair

 

About the IPO

The Independent Producers Organisation (IPO) is a representative, national organisation of independent South African film, television and video producers constituted to represent, protect and promote the interests and needs of producers. For further information about the IPO, please visit www.ipo.org.za or contact the Administrator on administrator@ipo.org.za.