Sexual Harassment

This page was last updated on: 2021-03-12

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is prohibited under the Penal Code. In accordance with the Penal Code, whoever uses his or her position of authority or advantage to offer a benefit in exchange for sexual favors; intimidate another person or threaten retaliation if such person refuses to engage in any type of sexual relations; and engage in any unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature with respect to another person, including, but not limited to inappropriate touching, commits the offence of sexual harassment. Whether a particular act constitutes sexual harassment is a matter of fact, which depends on the character and nature of the parties. Whoever intentionally engages in sexual harassment commits an offence, and once convicted, is liable to imprisonment up to three years, or fine or both.

The Labour Act defines sexual harassment as deliberate sexual comments and gestures, implicit or explicit,  of any conduct of sexual nature that is unwanted, embarrassing, demeaning or compromising. It can be a single incident or occur over a period of time. Following acts consist of sexual harassment: sexual or insensitive jokes, lewd suggestions, whistling, foul language, slurs, innuendos, leering and obscene gestures; belittling comments on a person’s anatomy or persistent demand for dates; asking for sexual favours; unwanted physical contact; display of pornographic or sexually suggestive pictures; indecent exposure; sexual assault or rape; and unwelcome sexual advances.   

An employer is to ensure that no person sexually harasses an employee during the course of the employee’s work for the employer. Employer is required to issue a policy statement on harassment in consultation with workers’ representative where number of employed workers is 20 or more. The employer is to make rules and regulations against sexual harassment to govern employer and employees at the workplace.

Source: §395 & 396 of the Penal Code Act 2008; §5 & 7 of the Labour Act, 2017