In a bid to promote gender equality and protect female actors from sexual exploitation in the arts industry, actor Kelvin Maxwell Ngoma has embarked on a campaign to dismantle harmful gender norms and practices that expose talented female actors to sexual abuse.
The campaign called ‘Book Her for Her Skills Not Nakedness’ seeks to bring to book all culprits exploiting female artists in the entertainment industry.
“As an artist, my work mostly focuses on the film industry, but I am working towards ensuring gender equality in the arts, that everyone is treated right and equally and this is what brought about this campaign,” said Ngoma, who is working with a youth organisation called Her Liberty Malawi, Care International, UN Women and Ministry of Gender.
He said the film industry in Malawi, just like other sectors, has a sickening syndrome where some directors and producers often demand sexual favours from talented female actors in exchange for movie roles.
Ngoma added: “It’s a hidden crisis which violates the rights of female actors in the country.
“This has been going on for a long time now, but people don’t usually talk about it. Even the victims don’t come out. You would probably only hear of such issues during chitchats at drinking joints or leisure places.”
He urged female actors in the country to break the silence on sexual abuse to nip the vice in the bud.
“We believe every person should get an opportunity based on their skills, qualifications and talents, not by offering their bodies. This nonsense must stop,” said Ngoma.
Among other strategies, the initiative will be producing documentaries of sexual scandals with survivors narrating their ordeals. This, according to the youthful gender equality advocate, will help to create awareness on the hidden problem.
One of the country’s film directors, Kennedy Zakochera, who co-directed the Atsikana movie, said the campaign is a welcome development.
He said: “This is in line with what the Atsikana initiative is advocating in the country. We say no to women abuse. Any form of violation against the rights of women and girls, including sexual abuse, is a gross violation of their rights.
“Therefore, this campaign has come at the right time when many stakeholders in the country are advocating for gender equality, including promotion of girls’ education.”