‘Sex-for-jobs culture prevalent in arts’

CERTIFIED model, actress and upcoming producer Joyline Chiedza Basira said although women have made significant inroads in the film industry over the years, many traditional and cultural bottlenecks still hinder their progress into the male-dominated industry.

She cited a raft of challenges, including lack of financial muscle, few opportunities and little airplay and coverage, which she said frustrated female artists’ dreams.

Basira said unless there were efforts to give women greater opportunities in the industry, many of them would fail to make an impact regardless of their skill.

“It is a disease that has to be cured, otherwise the female artist would be completely swallowed and trapped into the echelons of hibernation, then extinction,” she said.

The thespian said the lack of opportunities often made a lot of women in the industry vulnerable to sexual abuse as the “sex-for-jobs” culture was prevalent.

“The present day woman has fallen prey to insatiable sexual predators, who try by all means to manipulate women physically, emotionally and worse still, sexually. They maximise on the financial challenges facing most women in the arts industry and pretend to broker some shady deals so that they use these as bait to attack vulnerable women,” she said.

Basira said the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Arts could do more to facilitate access to opportunities for women as was the case in business and education.

The beauty queen appealed to Sport minister, Kirsty Coventry, to look into the matter: “If women were empowered by a bank, universities and colleges of professional courses, why would you, Honourable Minister, not open an arts centre for women as well so that they can be nurtured to be the best, with requisite skills and knowledge?”

Basira said she was not advocating for the “quarantine” of men, but highlighted that there was need to ensure that women in the industry were not taken advantage of.

“Abused women usually face the dilemma of whether to or not report such cases as the way they are handled sometimes take away their dignity,” she said.

“As artists, we are in the public domain and our life is a book in the public library, reachable to every interested individual hence some may not take legal action just to protect their reputations, but at the same time becoming prisoners of conscience.”

Basira said one of the major stumbling blocks in the industry was that the majority of women faced the challenge of underpayment and their roles were rated lowly in comparison with their male counterparts.

“Promoters also bank on those societal phenomena, where the lady is observed as a cheap, useless and wasted effort, while the males are taken as hard workers, creative and philanthropic individuals,” she said.

Basira, however, urged women to continue working hard even if financial assistance was difficult to come by, especially because fewer women had “collateral”.

“Honourable Minister of Youth, Sport and Arts, please devise some ways that would help us access the money that we can use to promote our art. Availability of cheap and accessible bank loans will go a long way in freeing us from the chains of financial retributions,” she said.

She also implored women in the industry to work together to fight abuse and prove that they could succeed without “having to offer more than professional contribution to have our work done”.


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