“Labour laws must be amended to address sexual harassment in the informal sector”

Emthonjeni Women’s Forum (EWF) says there is a need for the Parliament of Zimbabwe to amend the Labour Act to address sexual harassment in the informal sector as most women are now part of informal business.The organisation recently petitioned Parliament calling for the amendment of the sexual harassment act.

The joint parliamentary portfolio committees on public service, labour and social welfare and women affairs, gender, community and enterprises development followed up the petition by holding public hearings on sexual harassment across the country.

Speaking to CITE, in an interview on The Breakfast Club, Emthonjeni Women’s Forum Programs Manager Melissa Ndlovu said the recognition by Parliament to address sexual harassment will go a long way in protecting women in different workspaces.

“The first thing is that I am really hoping that the Parliament of Zimbabwe recognizes the need to address sexual harassment within the labour act, this will go a long way in protecting women in their various spheres of life and within the workspace,” said Ndlovu.

She said they petitioned Parliament towards ensuring that they amend the Labor Act specifically section 8 to comprehensively address issues of sexual harassment within the world of work and also to broaden what sexual harassment is.

Ndlovu said they also petitioned parliament to ensure that every company has a sexual harassment policy.

“The sexual harassment policy should be aligned to the Labour Act and the ILO convention 190 which speaks specifically to safe reporting mechanism within the workplace, the protection of whistleblower and the victims within the workplace ensuring that the psychosocial support for survivors of sexual harassment but broadly the criminalisation of sexual harassment it should be seen as what it is and not referred as an unfair labour practice. There is a need for the Labour Act to simply say that it is a criminal activity and perpetrators should be brought to book.”

Mellissa Ndlovu, Programs Manager ,Emthonjeni Women’s Forum

“I am hoping that they expand the definition of the workplace to also include the informal traders because nowadays everybody is into informal trade and that is our world of work, it’s our hustle, it’s our work and the recognition of those aspects.”

Ndlovu added that there is a need to swiftly deal with sexual harassment hearings as the whole process is traumatic.

“We also looked at the different kind of hearings that when a sexual harassment activity happens in a workplace they should be dealt with swiftly because its traumatizing, it takes away your human dignity and who you are, there is need for confidentiality. Sometimes I don’t want my husband to know that I have been sexually harassed in the workplace because it’s dehumanizing,” she said.

Ndlovu urged women who are facing any form of violence within their homes, and workspaces to “speak out, get help.”

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology

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