Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
SOME men are victims of sexual harassment at the workplace but do not report being victimised which perpetuates their abuse, the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) has said.
ZGC has said it has conducted sexual harassment investigations and awareness campaigns at both private and public sector institutions.
In an interview, ZGC chief executive officer Mrs Virginia Muwanigwa said while it is perceived that women are the only victims of sexual harassment, some men have suffered the same.
“This is not to say it’s only women who are victims of sexual harassment but men can also be victims of sexual harassment. But another challenge for men is that men have been socialised in a manner that they should not be able to speak out when they are violated. Some of them believe that it’s not a violation because it’s sexual, yet it is a violation so we need to raise awareness,” said Mrs Muwanigwa.
She said her organisation has conducted sexual harassment and investigations in both public and private institutions.
Mrs Muwanigwa said what they have unearthed in their investigations, is just a small reflection of the bigger problems associated with abuse in the workplace.
“We have not tallied numbers but I can say we have dealt with an investigation in the Immigration Department, we also did an investigation at the National Aids Council, we did an investigation at Deeds Office, we have also had requests from private sector institutions. We went to NMB which asked us to raise awareness of sexual harassment in their bank. We were also invited to Dairibord Zimbabwe,” she said.
“We have not gotten to a point where we tallied to see what are the trends. But what I can tell you as far as trends are concerned, what we get is just a tip of the iceberg of what is the problem. The problem is power and balance, it (sexual harassment) is a crime of opportunity just like corruption.”
She said ZGC is working on an empowerment project to capacitate women who want to be in political leadership positions.
She said women are still dominated by their male counterparts in politics and the quota system has not changed this system.
“We have mentored 20 women who were trained as trainers and we are going to cascade that into the provinces and districts, right down to the local level.
“We want women to be able to negotiate on how to hold positions in their parties, how to campaign and budget and even mobilise resources,” said Mrs Muwanigwa.
“When you look at the statistics, if you look at the last elections, for local government for example the highest was 18 percent of women made it into elected positions and at national level about 25 percent were elected through direct elections before we add the affirmative action. So, we address where there is a problem. This is some kind of action to ensure that there is equity or to ensure there is justice and there is balance in the scale.”[email protected]