Where is the legislation to deal with Sexual Harassment in the workplace? Incidents like this are more common that one would think, but there seems to be very little in terms of acknowledgement as to the scope of the problem, and the work that needs to be done to address it. This country currently has no stand-alone laws to deal with sexual harassment. Instead, what we have are “guidelines” from the Labour Ministry and Equal Opportunities Commission.
This however does not guarantee definitive action when it comes to claims of sexual harassment. Worse yet, these guidelines are tedious for the average citizen. The EOC’s online document, which is also published on the Labour Ministry’s website, is 64 pages long, and loaded with fancy legal jargon. It isn’t as clear cut as perhaps it should be. This prompted a group of students at the Human Rights Law Clinic of the Hugh Wooding Law School to step in. Ansar Mohammed, Casiana Sankar, Rachel Weekes and Sara Martinez tried to make this information more “digestible” by creating a handbook that breaks down definitions, and lays out processes and options. When speaking with 103.1FM however, one of the students expressed the belief that not enough is being done quickly enough in terms of bringing legislation into play.
And that is sad considering the fact that this is by no means a new discussion. It is worse when considering the incumbent Labour Minister, who is also a former union leader, has admitted to falling victim to sexual harassment herself. Being a victim, and quite likely working with other victims, did not seem to spur the Minister into action when she took up her role as Labour Minister in 2015. Because it was only in 2018, following public outcry in the wake of high profile local cases, that an attempt was made to put together a policy to treat with the issue. Legislation was also promised, but there are absolutely no timelines for that.
A policy is all well and good, but it falls well short of law, since it does not hold anyone to definite account, either to investigate or bear consequence. And it must be noted that sexual harassment affects both men and women. Men and women who many times, often feel compelled to ‘let it go’ or ‘put up with it’ because they see no other viable option. Let’s give our citizens some options.