Call for Labour Act, Public Service Act review

Mashonaland West Correspondent
Government has been called upon to review the Labour Act and Public Service Act to effectively deal with the problem of sexual harassment, particularly targeted at women at the workplace.

Such cases are generally regarded as unfair labour practice or acts of misconduct, while downplaying the aspect of sexual harassment.

This has been described as an affront to the dignity of women.

In a speech she read on behalf of former Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Cde Nyasha Chikwinya at a function on gender, Zvimba District development officer Mrs Tendai Musona said the Labour Act and Public Service Act loosely defined sexual harassment.

“It is a great concern to note that there is in place scant legislation to effectively address the problem of sexual harassment,” she said. “The Labour Act and Public Service Act do not define sexual harassment, but treats it as acts of unfair labour practice and acts of misconduct respectively.

“Under these loose definitions, sexual harassment has often been handled casually.”

Sexual harassment at the workplace leads to low self-esteem for the victim and poor performance at work, she said.

She said employers should ensure that employees were protected from harassment at all times.

Mrs Musona bemoaned the high incidents of sexual abuse against females in tertiary institutions, saying more should be done to protect them.

“Sexual harassment is rampant in tertiary institutions,” she said.

“It is often perpetrated on female students by male students, male lectures and non-academic staff at campuses and it is unfortunate that very few tertiary institutions have sexual harassment policies and mitigating measures in place.

“It is, therefore, critical that responsible authorities create safe learning environments for students by putting in place mechanisms that ensure protection and safety for our female students.

“Such measures as development of sexual harassment policies and well laid out reporting procedures at institutional level are a milestone in addressing sexual harassment in tertiary institutions.”

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