Amsterdam - 2011-5-10 - 3 PM - Women are victimised when they report sexual harassment

Victimisation by perpetrators and law enforcement agencies has continued to hamper the fight against sexual harassment.

As the International Young Women’s Conference entered day two, participants noted with regret that despite women gaining the courage to report sexual harassment cases, victims were still being treated like criminals when they reported cases to the police.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Women and Gender Co-coordinator, Fiona Gandiwa Magaya noted, ”In Zimbabwe when you report a case of sexual harassment, despite being a victim, you will feel like a criminal. They will ask you what you were wearing at the time you were attacked. Was the outfit long? Did you behave in a suggestive manner that could have given a wrong impression to the men?”

Women should be protected

It is sad that this habit by law enforcement officers who are supposed to protect these women has continued. It is bad enough going through the ordeal of being sexually harassed. But is even worse that when women finally get the courage to speak out, putting their fears aside, the law is not on their side.

Sexual harassment is a very sensitive issue and should be treated as such. After a woman has gone through such an experience she is never the same. The least that can be done is to grant the victim justice, but sadly that is not happening. Unfortunately because of this, only very few women ever get to take legal action.

Although some cases do eventually get to the courts few are prosecuted and the perpetrator eventually sentenced.

Sexual harassment in context

Sexual harassment is one of the ills that still pervades most of young workers around the world. Dealing with it will require not only concerted efforts but also contextualized actions, since in certain regions like Africa, the subject is strongly influenced by certain cultural practices, some sympathetic to acts that could be considered as harassment.

Thousands of 'Young Women' reached through the Decisions for Life campaign

Angola 109 70 0 179
Mozambique 296 36 0 332
South Africa 606 1840 2554 5000
Zambia 83 21 0 104
Zimbabwe 16 637 0 653
Brazil 1199 60 5170 6429
India 94 1015 3500 4609
Indonesia 254 81 1000 1335
NIS Countries
Azerbaijan 408 360 172 940
Belarus 2314 5380 68000 75694
Kazakhstan 1186 0 640 1826
Ukraine 649 68 550 1267
TOTAL 7214 9568 81586 98368