It is not just a word, you know? This is someone’s reality and the numbers of cases are staggering,
At first, it starts as an innocent flirtatious banter. Then quickly it turns into hands rubbing shoulders, grabbing waist, and soon, an interest to have sex, followed by aggressive blackmail on the victim’s career when the proposal is declined.
Sexual harassment isn’t always black and white and such misconduct is not uncommon in the workplace. Most times, sexual harassment in the workplace is about power. People in the position of power often abuse it to take advantage of their subordinates. And, unfortunately, the unprofessionalism and lack of self-control of the perpetrator is usually overlooked by the necessary authorities, thereby, bullying the victims into silence for the fear of losing their jobs.
For starters, there is no explicit provision in the Nigerian Labour Act 2004 that prohibits sexual harassment of any kind in the workplace. The clause addressing this menace is Section 9 of the Employees Compensation Act 2010, which affords compensation in the event of mental stress caused by an unexpected traumatic incident during employment. However, where the labour law lacks, the Nigerian constitution makes up for it. Section 34 of the constitution makes a provision to protect the dignity of an individual at all times, workplace inclusive. In an event of a breach on this human right, an aggrieved person has the jurisdiction to take matters to court.
We all have power in our voices. We shouldn’t feel ashamed, powerless, or scared to speak up against this menace. We must not be silenced by anyone in higher authority for the fear of losing our jobs and career. No one should be made to put with sexual harassment. No matter the circumstances, always know as a career woman, you are worth more than a salary or career. No job is worth sending you to a mental state of no return.
But most importantly, the uphill battle to an end to sexual harassment in the workplace starts from the office itself. Organizations need to spell out policies and laws to guide against such misconduct and seek justification for those affected by it. Human resources should encourage employees to speak to us against such crimes rather than ignoring it. Let us talk more about sexual harassment. No means no.
With the social movement against rape, sexual assaults, sexual harassment in recent times, our society is turning into a social upheaval and it is time for preparators to feel some heat!
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