UNFORTUNATELY sexual harassment is an ongoing problem in Mzansi . . .
It happens a lot – especially in the workplace – and maybe this is why the issue is not often addressed.
Men and women can experience it, but women are most often the victims.
The nature of the crime also makes it difficult to address and perpetrators get away with it many times.
Kay Vittee, the CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions, told SunWellbeing: “The reality is that due to its sensitive nature, employees are often too embarrassed or too scared to report sexual harassment.
“A common scenario is a senior employee who harasses a staff member who fears they may lose their job if they report it.”
Mzansi’s laws prohibit sexual harassment and there are many cases on record where people have been prosecuted and found guilty of sexually harassing their colleagues.
Vittee said the Labour Relations Act contains the Code of Good Practice on the Handling of Sexual Harassment Cases in the Workplace that defines and offers ways of dealing with it.
“According to the code, sexual harassment can be physical conduct, verbal conduct but also non-verbal conduct such as when the victim is harassed online, or by messages or images sent to cellphones,” she said.
When it comes to behaviours that constitute sexual harassment, Vittee described it as any kind of sexual behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable, including:
- Unwelcome sexual jokes
- Unwanted questions about your sex life
- Rude gestures
- Requests for sex
- Staring at your body in an offensive way.
In many instances perpetrators are dismissed, but Vittee said it depends on how the victim deals with the harasser.
Victims have the choice of dealing with sexual harassment in an informal or formal way.
- Talking to the perpetrator and asking them to stop the behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- If you don’t feel comfortable approaching the abuser, ask a trusted colleague to accompany you or talk to them on your behalf. You can also take it up with your manager.
- Email the perpetrator and say their behaviour makes you uncomfortable and they must stop. Mention what they do that makes you feel uncomfortable. Keep a copy of the communication.
- Lodge a formal grievance.
- Get all the details of how the case will be handled and the time frames in which the grievance will be dealt with.