Mediacorp worker dismissed over Park Juwon saga; firms must take harassment seriously, say women's groups

After she made a complaint to Mediacorp, other producers came forward to share similar experiences, which the company is investigating.
After she made a complaint to Mediacorp, other producers came forward to share similar experiences, which the company is investigating.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - The Mediacorp employee who made "inappropriate remarks" to a Channel NewsAsia producer has been dismissed, The New Paper understands.

The producer, Miss Park Juwon, had posted on social media about how her colleague, a male cameraman, referred to a part of her body as the reason why she could not be a presenter.

After she made a complaint to Mediacorp, other producers came forward to share similar experiences, which the company is investigating.

TNP understands Miss Park's actions had "emboldened" them to speak up when they were previously scared to report such behaviour.

This mirrors the exposure of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein as a sexual predator by The New York Times and The New Yorker, which has led not only to his ouster from his company but also encouraged a long line of actresses, including Angelina Jolie, to share their run-ins with him and others in the business.

Miss Jolene Tan, head of advocacy and research at the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), told TNP: "It is normal for survivors to have fears and doubts about reporting workplace harassment, especially if the perpetrator is someone who is a manager, supervisor or an authority figure who has power over their job security or careers.

"Therefore, it is important for companies to have a non-retaliation policy, which can put to bed concerns that some survivors may have about losing their jobs or being penalised for reporting harassment."

According to Miss Tan, it is important for all employers to have a formalised anti-harassment company policy. This will not only improve staff morale, it will also send a message to victims of workplace harassment that their employers take such abuse seriously.

Dr June Goh, president of the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations, said companies should also work on building a culture that encourages trust.

She told TNP: "Apart from official channels, there needs to be a culture of openness and mentorship in which junior members or women in the team, or any employee, are able to turn to if troubled or distressed."

Workplace harassment, said Miss Tan, should be taken seriously from the first instance of reporting.

This was echoed by Dr Goh, who stressed the importance of addressing problems early.

 

She said: "This would likely lead to a smaller number of people harassed and traumatised... (unlike) the unfortunate situation in the Weinstein case.

 

"It is important that harassment is taken seriously at all levels of the organisation and that all employers in supervising capacity are trained to handle harassment cases."

According to the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices, proper grievance handling procedures should be spelt out clearly.

Said its spokesman: "The grievance handling procedure should state the levels of appeal that allow for the affected employee to move to the next level if the matter is not addressed satisfactorily. If it is serious, the employee may wish to also lodge a police report under the Protection from Harassment Act."