Following the passing of the Sexual Harassment (Protection and Prevention) Act, which was officially rolled out in April, Gender Minister Olivia Grange has advised that work towards the full implementation of the legislation is now underway.
Making her contribution to the 2022-2023 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (June 9), Grange informed: ” We’re doing the work towards the full implementation of the legislation.
“The Sexual Harassment Unit — which will investigate complaints is being put in place. We started the recruitment for the unit and will have some officers on board as of July 1, 2022.”
The legislation is expected to address concerns about sexual harassment that occur in institutions, are employment-related, or arise in the landlord and tenant relationship.
Further to this, the act contains provisions for dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace, schools, correctional institutions, places of safety and nursing homes, as well as medical and psychiatric facilities, among other places.
Detailing the act’s implementation, the minister disclosed: “We have engaged a consultant — Danny Roberts — to assist with the setting up of the Sexual Harassment Tribunal and related matters.”
The tribunal is the body that will hear and determine complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace and other institutions. In addition, it will also adjudicate on complaints made by a worker of the employer’s failure to act on such complaints.
Grange noted: “We have already started to receive complaints, and we’ve been helping companies to put the necessary mechanisms in place to respond to them.”
She added: “So far, the Bureau of Gender Affairs has assisted 200 organisations to draft their Sexual Harassment Workplace policies. We’ve also been conducting sensitisation and awareness-raising sessions with public and private sector organisations, NGOs, educational institutions, and other groups.”
The minister emphasised that sexual harassment “is not a simple matter,” as no one should ever have to endure “unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favours and crude sexual behaviours”.