By Tafadzwa Bandera.
Gender Based Violence at work is one of the most common human rights violations in the world. It can affect any worker, but mostly women due to unequal status and power relations. Sexual harassment, verbal abuse, threats are all part of gender based violence.
Gender based violence affect women in many ways. A woman might lose a job for refusing to sleep with her boss. She might be used to being abused due to desperation to keep her job. A woman might not concentrate due to being verbally abused or stalked.
There are lot of things we can do to end this cancer that has become rampant at places of work.
The government needs to come up with policies that will protect workers from gender based violence. Our current policies are too lenient , hence making workers vulnerable. The Workers Union must demand government and employers to come up with policies against all forms of violence at work, and promote awareness among their employees on the impact of violence against women and the importance of ending it.
The Ministry of Labour should be leading in spreading the gospel of protecting all workers without discrimination as to race, religion, language, marital status , migrant, age , disability and many other things. The Ministry of Labour and Women’s affairs and Workers Associations should hold meetings frequently to make sure that the policies in place make women safe at place of work. It would reduce the vulnerability of women and increase productivity at work.
The media is the powerful weapon that can be used to propagate information about Gender Based Violence(GBV). Many a time, you find that the Media only focus on GBV when a rape case is involving a well known or respected person, for example, Pastor Timothy Omotoso, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein and others. Thousands of women are raped or threatened everyday. There is need to come up with platforms that will allow women or men to speak up . Newspapers should have articles about GBV issues. All radio stations should have programmes about GBV. It must interview workers or collect stories from workers about how GBV at work affected them. Survivors of GBV must be given the chance to speak about experiences. This will inspire those who have been suffering silently to speak out. There is need for television programmes that educate, discuss and prevent GBV issues.
The Ministry of Labour Women affairs through the media must organize campaigns aimed at preventing and combating GBV. The media can play a pivotal role in the fight against GBV.
Communication is of paramount importance in every relationship. There should be good communication between workers , employers and Workers Unions. Workers need to be aware of their rights and Employers should respect the rights of their employees. It is well known that women do not want to report violence or harassment. For instance, a maid is being forced to work long hours everyday by his employer. The victim must report to the Workers Union so that they can assist her and the Workers Union must must make sure the employer is punished. This can happen through communication.
Every worker must be a member of the Workers Union, so that employees will not be abused. There is also need to educate and train to increase awareness, most women do not know their rights or do not want to report. The Workers Union must demand that government enact and enforce laws to protect women at work.
There is need to teach men about equality. It’s sad that we are still treating women like they are inferior. Understanding equity or equality will wash away the mentality of seeing women as beings that are not eligible to hold certain positions, for example, managerial positions or positions in government. The government should lead by example, by challenging gender stereotypes and roles by appointing women in positions of power, as a sign of promoting equality.
Men should be taught that they are not superior to women but we are all equal. We have read stories about companies that refused women to be in charge. Some threaten women to scare them. Men should know that women do not belong in the kitchen but everywhere and what men can do, women can do and vice versa.