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GENDER groups have reacted with shock and outrage after Sowetan photographer Vathiswa Ruselo was barred from entering a section of Orlando Stadium.
"You are a woman. Women have their places and that is where you belong," an Orlando Pirates security guard who gave his name as Mbatha, told Ruselo.
Ruselo said she felt humiliated when the security guard, refused her entry to the stadium's mixed zone area, where she and fellow photographer Antonio Muchave were looking for the club's media officer.
"The security guard said I should not barge into an area that is meant only for men, despite other male journalists going in and out," Ruselo said.
She said that another guard brought her a chair to sit on and told her to steer clear of the entrance where the players came out on to the field.
"I felt angry and humiliated because I had never experienced such degrading treatment before."
Orlando Pirates administrator Floyd Mbele said he was not aware of the incident but would investigate.
Mbele said it was "strange" that the security guards would not let Ruselo in because the club's media officer, Thandi Merafe, was also a woman.
"We cannot condone actions like these. It would only be fair to apologise to her and hear the other side of the story," Mbele said.
Gender Links executive director Colleen Lowe Morna said: "The incident demonstrates the hostile environment faced by media women who dare to go into non-traditional areas of reporting.
"All the statistics show us that women in the media are least well represented in photography and in sports coverage, and this kind of incident shows us why these two areas remain shut doors to women."
The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) said it was perturbed by the incident.
CGE spokesperson Javu Baloyi said: "It is shocking that this should happen when all eyes are focused on South Africa for the Fifa World Cup. It hampers progress towards gender equality in the country."
SA National Editors Forum media freedom committee chairperson Thabo Leshilo said the incident displayed "blatant sexism" and had no place in modern society.
"This is yet again a manifestation of the abuse of the media in our country. It shows that media freedom is not yet entrenched in our country.
"There is no place for such blatant sexism and other forms of discrimination in modern society," Leshilo added.