Johannesburg - Real-life stories that have been dramatized and turned into public service announcement videos for a campaign called #ThatsNotOkay by a vocal group of South African women called Sisters Working in Film and Television (Swift) that launched officially in July 2018 are harrowing.
These include an actress having her breast fondled by a sound guy attaching her microphone, a line producer kept late at work – because the producer wants to "get to know her better".
Other experiences mentioned by participants in the report include a film executive encouraging a woman producer to be sure to "dress sexy" and "show some leg" for a meeting with a potential funder, and an older woman on set advising a younger victim of sexual abuse not to speak out because that will make it worse.
An unpaid extra needs a lift home at 2am, but the male crew member offering the lift expects a favour in return. And a crew member who passes out after drinking with fellow crew members wakes to find she is in pain and suspects she has been raped – only to be fired for going to a hospital for a rape kit.
Swift commissioned a report on the state of gender disparity in the workplace and surveyed about 80 women; the results were predictable and shocking.
"Sexual harassment and gender-based violence is the norm in South African society. For women in the film and TV industry it is a crisis, " says Zoe Chiriseri, the spokesperson for Swift.
Swift, she says, "wants to be able to amplify the voices of women who speak out, to create a safe space where they can be heard and believed. Women have been speaking out but there have been no channels for recourse, " says Chiriseri.