Spotlight on harassment

Harassment in the workplace remains largely unreported, unresolved and unpunished.

28 February 2020 | Local News

Union offices have been inundated with requests by female police, defence force and prison services officers who are subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace.

This is according to Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna) president Mahongora Kavihua.

According to him, sexual harassment in the workplace is so bad that even those who are promoted on merit are suspected of having slept their way to the top.

“Whenever a woman is promoted to a senior position, people just believe it is because they have a relationship with their supervisor, because it is so common,” he said.

He made these remarks at the launch of the Report on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work in Namibia, which took place in Windhoek yesterday.

The report said women are most at risk in the workplace, followed by juniors, semi- and unskilled workers and poor people from rural areas. One such case was that of a female security guard who was sexually harassed by her manager until she opened a criminal case, while some of her female colleagues remained quiet and endured the abuse.

The report further found that more than 60% of those interviewed left their jobs because of sexual violence or harassment at work.

“Apart from this, reporting of cases could remain incidental because of the unequal power relations that are ruling workplaces in general, and violence and harassment cases in particular, which may result in the fear of losing jobs, not being believed and a lack of evidence and fear of being blamed,” the report states.

Dr Daleen Kavezepua, an economist within the labour ministry, said: “Victims fear losing their jobs if they report violence and or harassment. Victims fear not being believed and being unable to prove cases of harassment,” she said. Deputy labour minister Tommy Nambahu said there is a need to recognise that Namibia is not free from violence in the workplace and harassment, including gender-based violence.

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JEMIMA BEUKES

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