Outspoken Women and Gender Equality Commissioner, Nicole Cole, is joining the call for the implementation of adequate policies to tackle sexual harassment in workplaces.
Her comments follow the recent reports of sexual assault committed on women working at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, (CJIA).
The reports have garnered significant public attention, with some activist groups calling for the perpetrators of such crimes to be brought to justice.
The activists also noted the lack of awareness and low number of reports of sexual crimes committed in employment situations. They have since called on women and men to speak out against sexual acts committed against them, in their workplaces.
Speaking to Kaieteur News on the issue, the WGEC Commissioner highlighted the need for adequate workplace policies which would help to curb the incidence of sexual harassment.
“Sexual harassment in the workplace is a crime that affects employee morale, mental health and leads to depression and suicide; it is an ‘occupational phenomenon’ akin to the burnout syndrome experienced in toxic work environments.
“It is dehumanising, exploitative, and abusive and should be punished with the harshest methods.
“It violates women’s right to decent work even when she has gone to school and qualified herself when a man or men want her to spread her legs for a job promotion or salary increase…”
Additionally, Cole noted that the International Labour Organisation, (ILO) conventions guarantees Women’s right to decent work but sexual harassment in the workplace smacks of gross disrespect of that right.
Last Thursday, the WGEC Commissioner tackled sexual harassment in the workplace with E Division ranks in Linden.
The capacity building session was hosted by Rights of the Child Commission.
During the event, the WGEC representative drove home the point that sexual harassment is a crime.
She noted too that WGEC 2017-2018 statutory report recommends that a sexual harassment policy should be instituted at all places of work and educational institutions.
Cole stressed, however, that an immediate action would be to write all employers asking them to publish the following statement, ‘Sexual Harassment at the Work place is FORBIDDEN. Employees who engage in sexual harassment are liable to disciplinary action, including dismissal’
On Thursday members of the rights activist group, Red Thread, staged a protest in front of the Ministry of Social Protection on Brickdam in an effort to bring awareness to sexual harassment in the workplace.
The group was standing in solidarity with a female worker at the CJIA Timehri, who made a complaint to the management of that state-owned entity.
She claimed that a senior official at the airport sexually assaulted her when she visited his office.
The worker complained to management and it was only recently after enquires that she was told that the matter was “addressed.”
A few days after that article was published, another former female staffer came forth with her disturbing details of sexual assault and victimization, which she endured at the hands of another top official of the airport.
Just one of the victims have made an official police report, but investigations are currently being conducted into the scandal.
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