Permit me a few reflections on an article I read in the print media recently, coming from none other than a Caribbean legal mind.
I think, Ms. Tracy Robinson, senior lecturer from the Law Faculty at UWI, adds dimension and purpose to the unheard voices of our women who suffer silently in the work place, while those that have a vested authority to act, vacillate indefinitely on the issue of sexual harassment.
The time has come to fight back, and only legislature will create the underpinnings for structured responses to this social scourge and at the same time protect our women folk. In some cases, with clearly defined laws and policies, at the level of companies and institutions, it may dissuade those who are predisposed to such inappropriate actions.
Too often women in the work environment are caught up in a vice of how to respond to sexual harassment only because their employer fails to adequately address this as a relevant concern, so I echo the view of Ms. Robinson that the Caribbean region needs to understand the importance of a legislative stance on sexual harassment.
To those mothers, daughters and sisters who continue to be abused in workplaces where policies are not in place to protect you, I say again fight back, and there are things you can do. Always keep a journal of the encounters with your harasser, whether it be verbal or physical, use recorders if it’s possible and available to you.
Your journals and recordings will eventually reveal a pattern whether the perpetrator is a peer at the work place or an executive, this will give you empirical support for a legal response. And you must be wary of those who submit themselves willingly to this inappropriate conduct, for temporary gains and increment, because they only help to derail the process, responsive actions and make the harasser bolder in his degrading pursuits.
Very significant too is the fact that many of the seasoned harassers, when confronted, claim they are victims. (http://www.hr-guide.com/data/07201.htm)
Guyana has an opportunity as a stalwart within CARICOM to enact the legislation that would bring equity and respect from a gender perspective, and I’m sure the whole region would respond likewise. This is not strange territory for our Government, because they have passed significant legislation that reflects modern thinking and responsiveness.
The world has moved from the ideals of Mercantilism and hostile working environments and now embraces Commerce and Industry, where the employees are the engine of growth and development, so companies and institutions should no longer be run like Plantations. Our women need to fight back and maintain their dignity.
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