In Summary
  • The Constitution, under the Bill of Rights, guarantees freedom and security, including protection from any form of violence.
  • The Employment Act obliges enterprises with 20 or more employees to formulate a statement on sexual harassment.

Out of 83 governments, 79 voted in 2018 to adopt the International Labour Conference (ILO) instruments on violence and harassment in the workplace.

This March, the ILO released the latest draft of the proposed convention, “Ending Violence and Harassment in the World of Work”, which consists of observations made by governments, as well as employers’ and workers’ organisations at the 107th ILC.

The convention will form the basis for the second discussion at the 108th ILC on June 10-21 in Geneva after almost all governments and workers’ organisations and a simple majority of employers’ organisations adopted it.

The majority of governments and workers’ organisations were in favour of a convention supplemented by a recommendation whereas the employers’ organisations wanted a recommendation.

A convention is legally binding — requiring member states to ratify and domesticate it and regularly report on its implementation — but a recommendation is not. A convention supplemented by a recommendation gives detailed guidelines on its application.

HARASSMENT

Adoption of the proposed instrument will be the fifth item on the agenda this year.

It seeks to identify the steps that governments, employers and workers must take to prevent, address and redress violence and harassment at the workplace. None of the international labour standards addresses that comprehensively.

Gender-based violence (GBV) is not about an individual — it’s systemic. It is an ever-present collaborator to subjugation and power imbalances.

Victims can be targeted for reasons including their gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, class or race.

GBV undermines workers and makes the targets fearful of speaking out as they find themselves in a dilemma — to keep their job or speak out against violence.

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