Jamaica’s Sexual Harassment Policy to be Passed Soon

Panos: Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, Olivia Grange, has indicated that Jamaica’s draft National Sexual Harassment Policy should be passed within the 2009-2010 financial year.

“People do not know how to report sexual harassment or where to seek redress. This policy will be a guide to other organisations in creating their own sexual harassment policies,” said Grange, whose ministry has direct responsibility for Women & Gender Affairs. “We intend that this legislation is passed within this financial year.”

Grange was addressing a full auditorium of government workers and officials, business people, NGO representatives, representatives from women’s organisations, community groups and the media at a Sexual Harassment Sensitisation Forum in Kingston recently.

Minister Grange held the draft Sexual Harassment Policy high and explained that it was a step towards sexual harassment legislation in Jamaica .

In Jamaica many people do not know how to define sexual harassment, let alone report it. As a daily part of living, females endure lascivious looks, comments and gestures from men they know and total strangers.

Some people see nothing wrong with pinching or caressing another person as an expression of admiration whether the targets of their admiration welcome the attention or not.

In the workplace stories of male and female bosses who sexually harass their subordinates are common. The workplace victims are pressured to submit to unwelcome advances or risk demotion and job loss. Sexual harassment at work also plays out in subtle ways. The display of nude pictures, sexually suggestive graphics on coffee mugs and the computer, although inappropriate, are common. Many people see nothing harmful in these things.

“Any conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcome or uncomfortable to the victim is sexual harassment,” explains Mrs. Faith Webster, Executive Director of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs. She was speaking at a Sexual Harassment Sensitisation Forum in Kingston put on recently by the Bureau of Women’s Affairs.

In a recent release the Bureau of Women’s Affairs said that sexual harassment in private and in public has become a “disturbing problem” in Jamaica . At the forum Mrs. Webster explained that sexual harassment is widespread and occurs across all social strata and age groups. Victims are mostly female, but reports of male victims are on the increase. This was also true for same sex harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of gender violence.

In response to this problem the Bureau of Women’s Affairs has created a Sexual Harassment Policy for Jamaica . This national policy will address sexual harassment in workplaces, institutions and rented accommodation. The policy addresses issues such as an organisation’s liability for sexual harassment and the fair treatment of both victims and perpetrators. In a 2005 survey the Bureau of Women’s Affairs found that of 44 organisations surveyed only 5 had any sexual harassment policy. None of the 5 organisations were from the government sector.

Senator Dwight Nelson, Minister of National Security, also addressed the forum. He supported the speedy enactment of sexual harassment legislation in Jamaica , pointing out that sexual harassment is a public health issue.

” Jamaica ‘s health services are unduly burdened because of violence against women.”

He also pointed to the ingrained nature of sexual harassment in Jamaica .

“Many ‘big men’ in Jamaica were brought up to believe that they should not sow their wild oats outside. But they were encouraged to use their domestic helpers,” he said.

Sexual harassment by definition is also a misuse of power, as Hilary Nicholson, co-ordinator or Women’s Media Watch pointed out. “Unless we understand the power relations in our society it is impossible to understand sexual harassment,” says Nicholson.

Attendees at the forum wanted to know about any plans to address sexual harassment in public. Dr. Eileen Boxill, Attorney-at-Law pointed out that sexual harassment in public would not be easy to prosecute.

“It presents some gray areas that might not fit comfortably in legislation.” However, she added that in some cases sexual harassment sanctions might exist in criminal law, for example indecent assault.

The sexual harassment forum marked the closing session of a national project to reduce violence against women. The project which was funded by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) involved months of training and sensitisation programmes for Jamaican government workers and human resource practitioners.

     

Mark Lee

About Mark Lee

Editor, author and writer with career spanning print, radio, television and new media.

2 comments on “Jamaica’s Sexual Harassment Policy to be Passed Soon
  1. Mark, Mark, my dear son, this piece is so interesting.Mrs. Fay Webster and Senator Nelson are right, but here is my take: Sexual harrassment is much more than a public health issue for some, it is a heinous act, no promotion if you refuse to comply. You become persona non – gratia even among the other females if you reject, funny but true, the very ones who should stand with you, sees nothing wrong with the advancements, but everything wrong if you refuse.On the flip side for some it is not ‘unwelcomed or uncomfortable’ it is welcomed and provides all the creature comforts – pays the rent, provides the car and it’s upkeep, take vacations, pay for the clothes and the hair dresser. Come on how many of these perpetrators will the law rope in? Very few for ‘ for sweet dads provide the luxuries of life that my pay checque cannot. What! nothing nuh wrong with a little ‘body works’ after all mi nah mek worms eat it. Let me shut up before I say much more.

    All I know is that, sexual intercourse outside of marriage is a sin, and sin has and will bring a nation down. A friend called me right after the ‘o7 election and said,’Jamaica will now change , because for a long time e have not have a family in Jamaica House and we now have one in there. Well I have not seen the changes as yet, have you?.The family that prays together stays together’ but before you pray the ‘man or woman’ in the mirror, you have to face. Men and women in Jamaica, for if you indulge in what we are talking about you are not a gentleman nor a lady, you are just plain man and woman. Look into your heart and ask yourself, ‘Am I causing someone else to hurt? Is someone crying because of what I am doing? Are my actions destructive to another human being? How many children is being hurt by my actions?’

    Remember the Bible, and we have more churches per square mile than any other country, it warns that, ‘If you hurt any of these little ones it is better a mill stone hung around your next and you descend into the deepest part of the sea’. Your ‘dark shadow’ pleasures of the flesh is a destructive force to the children, no matter how old and accomplished they are, and worse if they are young. The spouse and children’s tears will follow you to your grave.

    Let me say this; some years ago I met a beautiful woman, elderly but you can see that she had facial beauty in her early years. She was not very coherent, but the person who introduced me to her gave me a synopsis of her life. She was the wife of so and so, and she left so and so for so and so, when the last so and so died he made no provision for her, so she had to shack up with another so and so, and now the third so and so is dead, had refused to marry her and left her only with a roof over he head. Her children from the first union – all drug addicts.

    Women and men it is more than merely a public heath issue it is the most destructive deed that will destroy a nation; it is the devil’s act so as you destroy families one by one, you destroy a nation. The family is the nucleus; the atom cannot hold if this is destroyed. the protons and neutrons cannot revolve and the whole organism will disintegrate.

    Do you realize that the Jamaican society is rapidly disintegrating , unraveling into chaos? The sins of the flesh both in high and low places is the greatest destructive force. ‘Bread eaten in secret is sweet, ain’t it?

    A little story for you all: One day a Seventh Day Adventist and another man was arguing about the eating of pork. The other man said, “Pork is the sweetest meat; you do not know what you are missing!” The Adventist man replied,”I am not missing anything for there is nothing sweeter than sin.” Bye.

  2. I forgot the most profound: Sex for grades in our institutions of higher learning. If you are bright and you do not indulge you will fail. Listen people what I write are not assumptions, these are the pain shared with me, by students who are ‘raped’ to get certification. Listen man our sins of the flesh is too much to cope with. There is not sanity in this society, morals have taken wings and have flown. You cannot legislate values and attitudes when our personal lives are an orgy. If it is not homosexuality, it is adultery. Do you know how many confused youths are out their because to pass they had to succumb to the will of those who holds the ‘handle. Look it is the same with a driver’s license, if you do not pay, trust me you will not get it at some depots, you will fail and fail until in frustration you pay. Do not blame these victims, Oh my God, help.

    verse 1X from the RUBYYAT: ‘Morning a thousand Roses brings: you say
    Yes, but where leaves the Rose of Yesterday?
    And this first Summer month that brings the Rose
    Shall take Jamshyd and Kaikobad away
    xvi: The Wordly Hope men set their hearts upon
    Turns Ashes — or it propers;and anon
    Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face
    Lighting a little Hour or two — is gone.

%d bloggers like this: