The 16 Days of Activism - “No Violence Against Women and Children” - is an international awareness-raising campaign, which takes place annually from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day). This is preceded by the Universal Children’s Day (20 November) and also encompassing other key dates, namely:
-International Women Human Rights Defenders Day – 29 November;
-World AIDS Day - 1 December;
-International Day of Persons with Disabilities - 3 December; and
-The Montreal Massacre - 6 December.
This collective event, widely known as the 16 Days of Activism, calls for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and children. It is unfortunate that violence against women and children has encroached into schools as well. As activists around the world and in South Africa commemorate 16 Days of Activism, NAPTOSA wants to focus attention on the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. Employees in lower positions, those seeking promotions, young and temporary educators can be regarded as vulnerable employees. These employees are therefore susceptible to sexual harassment. NAPTOSA calls for the eradication of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Behaviour deemed as sexual harassment include the following acts:
- “Unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct from a person who knows or ought to reasonably know that such attention is unwelcome;
- Any physical conduct of a sexual nature includes all unwanted physical contact, ranging from touching to sexual assault and rape, and includes a strip search by or in the presence of the opposite sex;
- Verbal forms of sexual harassment include unwelcome innuendoes, suggestions and hints, sexual advances, comments with sexual overtones, sex-related jokes or insults or unwelcome graphic comments about a person's body made in their presence or directed toward them;
-Unwelcome and inappropriate enquiries about a person's sex life, and unwelcome whistling directed at a person or group of persons;
- Non-verbal forms of sexual harassment include unwelcome gestures, indecent exposure, and the unwelcome display of sexually explicit pictures and objects;
- Quid pro quo harassment occurs when an owner, employer, supervisor, member of management or co-employee, undertakes or attempts to influence the process of employment, promotion, training, discipline, dismissal, salary increment or other benefits of an employee or job applicant, in exchange for sexual favours;
-Sexual favouritism exists where a person who is in a position of authority rewards only those who respond to his/her sexual advances, whilst other deserving employees, who do not submit themselves to any sexual advances, are denied promotions, merit rating or salary increases.” [Extracted from the South African Labour guide]
NAPTOSA calls on managers to create and maintain a working environment in which the dignity of all employees is respected. NAPTOSA urges all learning institutions to ensure that they display a code of conduct and the code of good practice for dealing with sexual harassment in staffrooms, corridors and bathrooms for all employees. Managers are also encouraged to organise workshops that specifically address sexual harassment in the workplace. These will create an environment wherein all employees are empowered and sexual harassment will be deemed unacceptable.
It is imperative that reporting of sexual harassment should be encouraged. Managers are called on to ensure that victims who choose to report sexual harassment feel that their grievances are not ignored or trivialised. NAPTOSA members and employees at large should not fear reprisal if they wish to report sexual harassment. Members who wish to report sexual harassment in the workplace are urged to contact their NAPTOSA provincial office for assistance.
Say NO to Sexual Harassment in the workplace!
NAPTOSA is determined to create safe learning environments thus actively advocating against School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV).