KEETMANSHOOP, 11 DEC– Nearly 300 people gathered at the Westdene Stadium in Keetmanshoop to commemorate the International Human Rights Day as well as the day of the Namibian Women on Monday.
Speaking at the event Deputy Minister of Gender, Equality and Child Welfare, Lucia Witbooi said the evils of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and sexual harassment in particular have become common in many workplace environments and this year’s theme seeks to create awareness that GBV is also perpetuated at work settings.
The commemoration was held under the theme; ‘Orange the world #HearMeToo: ending Gender Based Violence in the world of work’
Witbooi said the Labour Act No.11 of 2007, which governs all labour relations under section five, states that sexual harassment means any unwarranted conduct of a sexual nature towards an employee which constitutes a barrier to equality in employment where the victim has made known to the perpetrator that he or she finds the conduct offensive.
“Being sexually harassed can impact one’s psychological health, physical well-being and occupational development of the victim. These effects may include but not limited to absenteeism from work, decrease job satisfaction, depression, shock, denial and lower self-esteem,” she said.
She added that GBV contributes to sex discrimination at work and diminishes women’s participation and advancement in the workplace.
Witbooi said government should create opportunities for dialogue between activists, policy-makers and the public as victim of GBV and sexual harassment in the workplace should be heard, adding that such platforms will be able to explore the extent of violence against women in Namibian in both rural and urban settings.
“We can attempt to understand the second and third level of effects GBV has on our society and economy,” she added.
The deputy minister urged men and boys to not feel excluded from the fight against GBV and sexual harassment in the workplace as they have an important role to play in this endeavour.
In his speech read on his behalf Namibian Police Force //Kharas Regional Commander, Commissioner Rudolf Isaak said that the violence against women and children is probably the most widespread human rights violation of this time and there is therefore a need to address it.
“I urge every peace loving person to join the police in the fight against crime, the cries of women, children and vulnerable members of society need to be heard and [they] need to be heard now,” he said. – NAMPA