ZCTU secretary general Cosmas Mukuka says the union is saddened by high levels of sexual harassment in workplaces.
And Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) programme manager Kathy Short says sexual harassment victims need counseling because it leaves psychological scars.
Meanwhile, International Labour Organisation national project coordinator Elizabeth Simanda says GBV must come to an end because it leaves the victims traumatized for the rest of their lives.
The trio was speaking during the launch of a campaign against workplace GBV under the theme ‘Leave no one behind, end Gender Based Violence now’.
Mukuka observed that many women were being harassed for fear of losing their jobs.
“ZCTU is saddened by the high levels of sexual harassment in the workplace due to fear of losing a job by the victims. Two thirds of women are experiencing violence are in a job. I want to urge trade unions, women and feminist organisations and others to come together in advocating or pushing for laws that will make it clear that violence and harassment are not part of the job,” Mukuka said.
“We call on all victims of sexual harassment to speak out in line with our policy on sexual harassment. We call upon all unions to set up structures that will protect workers and union members from sexual harassment in the workplace and union.”
Mukuka implored government to tighten punishment against perpetrators of GBV.
“We demand that government tightens punishment against perpetrators of Gender Based Violence if the country is to eradicate this vice. Government must increase budgetary allocation towards monitoring and eradication measures and ensure that these measures are having an impact on eliminating GBV. Failure to do this will mean our government is condoning the ongoing and worsening experience of GBV for women and children in our country. We are concerned that issues dealing with violence against women and children are not receiving adequate attention from authorities. It is time government and communities play a meaningful role in the eradication of the scourge of GBV,” said Mukuka.
And Short said sexual harassment victims need counseling.
“According to recent research by the University of Zambia, findings showed sexual harassment in Zambian workplaces is very high with 69 percent of respondents claiming that they are victims. The other 75 percent were not aware of any sexual harassment policies in their workplace and that sexual harassment exists in various forms. These findings imply that female employees are being subjected to unsafe work environments that can affect their emotional and physical health. It also implies that sexual harassment is embarrassing, humiliating behaviour which has no place in our modern society,” Short said.
“We need to put our heads together, we need to work together to address this issue. This evil vice in the workplaces is unacceptable because it leaves a lot of psychological scars on the victims. And I must hasten to mention that it is not only women that are victims of sexual harassment. Sexual violence cannot go on in this 21st century. In most cases in Zambia we have not used psychological help and counselling which is needed for the victims. Therefore, we would like to implore the government of the Republic of Zambia to ensure that such facilities are available for the victims to go and have some counselling. Victims need someone who will not judge them but will listen to them. And to the victims, both men and women, please let’s speak out. Let’s not remain silent because this vice if left unchecked will affect our future generation.”
Meanwhile, Simanda said GBV left victims traumatized for the rest of their lives.
“GBV makes the victim to be traumatized for the rest of her or his life. That is why we are all standing up today to support this launch so that we can bring GBV to an end in Zambia in collaboration with government. GBV affects all, women, men and children. It is an issue for everyone. I am managing a program of GBV and I see people being abused every day,” said Simanda.