ZWLA Statement on the Rita Marque Mbatha vs Farai Bwatikona Zizhou and Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries Judgment

Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) celebrates the land mark and progressive ruling in the above sexual harassment case. The judgment upholds the Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe, in particular the right to human dignity (section 51), the right to personal security and freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment (section 53).

Sexual harassment is a global phenomenon and many women continue to suffer in silence. ZWLA notes the adverse impact of sexual harassment of women in the work place, in public and in professional settings thereby inhibiting the enjoyment of human rights.

Zimbabwe is a signatory to various regional and international instruments such as Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Article 11 of CEDAW provides for the elimination of discrimination against women in the workplace. On 21st of June 2019, the International Labour Conference adopted the ILO Convention 190 as read with Recommendation 209 with the process behind their enactment having begun in 2015. The Convention provides a clear framework for action and an opportunity to shape the future of work based on dignity and respect, free from violence and harassment.

The right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment has never before been clearly articulated in an international treaty. It also recognizes that such behaviours can constitute a human rights violation or abuse thus presenting to us with a standard setting statute which Zimbabwe is yet to adopt and align with national laws. The Recommendation also sets out practical measures, including leave for victims, flexible work arrangements, and awareness-raising.

We therefore call for:

  • A specific law on sexual harassment in the workplace; and
  • Ratification of the ILO Convention 190 as read with Recommendation 209.

Source: Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association

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