Zimbabwean women suffer s3xual harassment in silence


SE XUAL harassment in Zimbabwe’s workplaces is said to be rampant, with studies by different research organisations showing that while some individuals have suffered different forms of se xual harassment at work, very little training is done to educate workers about it.

A recent report by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) revealed that a survey on workplace se xual harassment by the Industrial Psychology Consultants showed that a very huge number of people were se xually harassed at work.

Of the sampled population (which was not named in the survey), it was found that 14% of the participants indicated they had been se xually harassed at work.

“Forty eight percent (48%) of the respondents had witnessed a colleague being se xually harassed at their workplace, twenty-six percent (26%) of the respondents were not aware of the ways to address se xual harassment at their workforces, while forty-three percent (43%) of the survey participants stated that they are not aware if the participants that were se xually harassed at work were females or male,” the RAU report said.

“Sixty-two percent (62%) of the participants, who were managerial employees, said the definition of se xual harassment is confusing and unclear, and are also not sure of the boundaries between se xual harassment and harmless flirting.”

The think-tank said 86% of the respondents had never received any training on se xual harassment.

Another survey on se xual harassment at work was done by Her Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the Zimbabwe Banks & Allied Workers Union (ZIBAWU) reported that in their campaign against se xual harassment, they realised that many employees were victims.

“Startling also was their admittance that they did not know what se xual harassment was and their rights. They also could not report the cases to anyone,” RAU said.

This particular research was said to have sampled 132 employees, of which 61% of the participants were female.

“Thirty-one percent (31%) of the women indicated that they had been victims of se xual harassment or had witnessed se xual harassment in the workplace. Out of the individuals who indicated that they had been victims of se xual harassment, only thirty-four percent (34%) had reported these cases,” the advocate unit said.

The report said the problem of se xual harassment stemmed from the fact that historically, the country is a patriarchal society and women are often raised to be submissive to men, even in cases where they are abused.

The think-tank recommended that there is need for adequate laws on se xual harassment to be crafted and enforced, adding that they should be punitive to discourage the practice.

They said companies must also craft policies dealing with se xual harassment and investigate all complaints.

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