Sex, verbal abuse rife in workplaces

20 September 2019 | Labour

Workplaces in Namibia are rife with sexual and verbal abuse by bosses or clients who are rarely held to account for fear of further harassment or being fired.

Namibian attitudes, including dismissing and joking about those who report sexual or other forms of violence and harassment, ensure that most of these abuses are not reported and allow such behaviours to continue.

Unequal power dynamics, limited repercussions, fear of being blamed and shamed or punished are some of the obstacles preventing reporting of workplace abuse.

Moreover, a lack of clear reporting structures and support, workplace policies and definitions of harassment and violence, plus fear of not being believed, or being fired, mean most cases of harassment and verbal or physical violence are unreported.

A new study found moreover that many workers have adopted a “general acceptance of power inequalities and believe that things cannot be changed or challenged.”

These findings are contained in a landmark study conducted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) with the support of the labour ministry that was launched this week.

Titled 'Violence and Harassment Against Women and Men in the World of Work in Namibia', the study found that sexual harassment, while underreported and not always clearly understood, is a “reality for most women in Namibia”.

The study said the high rate of sexual harassment is “disturbing” and that the “quite shocking” attitudes towards verbal abuse at the hands of bosses and clients are a major concern.

A majority of respondents felt bosses have the right to insult, shout and be rude towards them because they pay them, and that reporting such incidents is not an option for fear of further harassment and abuse.

Only 3% of employees disagreed that a pay cheque gives bosses a right to verbally abuse them.

The results further found that 163 out of 300 respondents from the targeted industries, “had been shouted at for no good reason” by a boss or client, and 85 said they were frequently insulted by their boss, supervisor or client.

More than 110 workers said they “hated going to work because of the way they were treated.”

Close to 100 of workers said they felt they were treated differently because of racism and tribalism at the workplace.

Moreover, 62 workers said they had quit their jobs because of violence and or harassment at the workplace.

More than 20 told the study team they had been physically assaulted by a boss, colleague or client, including being kicked and beaten.

While the researchers noted that the study took place over a relatively short period, and obstacles such as fear of talking about a sensitive topic were considered, they nevertheless believe the information provides a “strong enough basis” for the conclusions reached.

Human rights

The ILO stressed that workplace violence and harassment, whether sexual, verbal, physical or economic, is a human rights issue that affects worker productivity, quality of services, worker engagement and workplace relations.

Those most likely to be abused are women, junior employees and people with lower educational qualifications.

Moreover, certain professions, including farm work, domestic work and security work, are more vulnerable.

The respondents for the study were sourced from a pool of workers in the domestic, security and retail industries.

Researchers also included views from 18 institutions, including UN agencies, legal and human rights experts, the Namibian police and unions, who all agreed that workplace violence or harassment is largely unreported in Namibia.

[email protected]


Similar News


Investing in employees’ future

3 weeks ago - 27 September 2019 | Labour

FirstRand Namibia supports education with bursariesFirstRand Namibia Assistance Trust has reduced the tertiary financial burden for 38 of its employees by awarding bursaries allowing them...

Empowering young leaders

3 weeks ago - 27 September 2019 | Labour

Francois van der Merwe As part of its ongoing mission to empower, equip and transform, Erongo Marine Enterprises (EME) sponsored ten young leaders, including...

Aaniilonga ya hala aahona yawo ya shunwe miilonga

3 weeks ago - 24 September 2019 | Labour

LEANDREA LOUW Aaniilonga yehangano lyEmbwinda Fishing otaya kondjitha opo aakomeho yawo miilonga ye li 21, mboka ya kuthwa miilonga shaaheli paveta opo ya shunwe...

Workers fight for supervisors

3 weeks ago - 23 September 2019 | Labour

Embwinda Fishing employees are on the warpath over the alleged unfair dismissal of 21 factory supervisors on 30 August.They held a peaceful demonstration at the...

Sex, verbal abuse rife in workplaces

1 month - 20 September 2019 | Labour

Workplaces in Namibia are rife with sexual and verbal abuse by bosses or clients who are rarely held to account for fear of further harassment...

Members pull out

1 month - 20 September 2019 | Labour

Namibia National Students' Organisation (Nanso) president Ester Simon says she will not be intimidated by the “small political circus” currently engulfing the student body. Vice-president...

Ekanka lyaaniilonga yaAgribusdev kali li paveta

1 month - 18 September 2019 | Labour

Omunambelewa Omukomeho gwoAgribusdev, Petrus Uugwanga okwa popi kutya aaniilonga kaya li ya pewa epitiko opo ya kuthe ombinga mehololomadhilaadhilo pethimbo lyoowili dhiilonga.ugwanga okwa popi kutya...

Agribusdev protest 'illegal'

1 month - 17 September 2019 | Labour

Agribusdev has described the actions of its workers, who demonstrated in Rundu over unpaid salaries, as illegal. Agribusdev managing director Petrus Uugwanga said the...

Builders' union appeals to State House

1 month - 13 September 2019 | Labour

The Metal and Allied Namibian Workers' Union (Manwu) yesterday appealed to President Hage Geingob to step in and save the construction sector, which has been...

Domestic workers ‘fear’ joining unions

1 month - 21 August 2019 | Labour

JANA-MARI SMITHMany domestic workers fear joining trade unions or taking full maternity leave, because they believe this could cost them their jobs. A study commissioned...

Latest News

Energy-efficiency key to fight climate...

2 days ago - 18 October 2019 | People

Ruan BestbierThe Bank of Namibia report on Namibia’s second quarter performance found that fuel imports significantly contributed to the decline in the country’s current account....

Nursing students left high and...

2 days ago - 18 October 2019 | Education

Disgruntled nursing students, some of whom have already completed their diploma course at the Rundu national health training centre, have laid into the health ministry...

Cops dish out schoolboy haircuts

2 days ago - 18 October 2019 | Education

A group of Mariental High School boys had a rude awakening this week when they were forcibly shorn of their hip-hop hairstyles.According to school principal...

Smooth operator

2 days ago - 18 October 2019 | People

Michelline Nawatises Zaskia Joubert has been part of the Sanlam family for more than five years. She joined the company immediately after the successful completion...

Let’s get fiscal

2 days ago - 18 October 2019 | People

Michelline NawatisesAstrid Jacobi is a born and bred Namibian. She went to school in Windhoek and completed her bachelor’s and honours degrees in accounting at...

Going for it

2 days ago - 18 October 2019 | People

Wisdom is a girl’s best friendEvany van Wyk In her current role as Bank Windhoek’s communication practitioner for electronic and new media, Veno Mbuende has...

Our hunger games

2 days ago - 18 October 2019 | Columns

A global report that tracks the state of hunger worldwide has found that Namibia’s ‘score’ is worse than war-torn countries such as Iraq and Iran.We...

Passion is energy

2 days ago - 18 October 2019 | People

Mariselle StofbergGrowing up, Uvatera Kamberipa always dreamt of becoming a soccer star and would always be running in the dusty streets of Ovitoto, just for...

Adding value

2 days ago - 18 October 2019 | People

Michelline NawatisesErika Kahelende Kaukungwa-Thomas was born in the harbour town of Walvis Bay.She matriculated at Augustineum Senior Secondary School and after matric she taught at...

Load More