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The Government is moving speedily to put legislation in place to address sexual harassment and a proposal will be presented to Cabinet soon.
This disclosure was made on April 21 by Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, at a ‘Sexual Harassment Rap Up’ forum at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.
Minister Grange, who has responsibility for Women’s/Gender Affairs, informed that there was no specific policy or law in place, which effectively addressed the issue of sexual harassment.
“The criminal laws that exist to provide some redress for sexual harassment are inadequate and point to the need for a sexual harassment policy as a precursor to the enactment of comprehensive gender neutral legislation to address this problem in employment, in educational and other institutions,” she stated.
Sexual harassment refers to unwelcome, unwanted sexual advances, request for sexual favours and other verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature, by one person towards another.
Ms. Grange said that it is a “disturbing problem”, which occurs both in the public and private sphere, and impacts negatively on a person’s ability to enjoy their human rights and fully contribute to the development of the country.
While commending the national sexual harassment policy spearheaded by the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, which seeks to protect human dignity and to ensure the protection of the rights of individuals to a safe and non-intimidating environment, Ms. Grange said the Government recognised that more needed to be done.
“That is why we are moving towards the enactment of sexual harassment legislation with haste,” she stated.
The forum, which was hosted by the Bureau of Women’s Affairs in collaboration with Women’s Media Watch, marked the culmination of a year-long programme, which was aimed at enhancing public access to protection under laws and policies on sexual offences, especially sexual harassment.