Women around the globe are lopsidedly affected by gender-based violence, sexual assault and harassment in the workplace. A huge number of female professionals are compelled to work in a terror, unfriendly or humiliating working condition while experiencing different undesirable types of sexual conducts. Women are often asked for sexual favours, verbal inappropriate jokes and remarks are also some of the many things they deal with in a workplace environment and undesirable physical contact that could lead up to a possible assault. Regardless of its enormous scale, sexual harassment in the working environment stays unannounced or goes unreported as a result of dread of doubt, blame, or social or professional retaliation. 

Harassment in the work environment isn’t bound uniquely to sexual harassment, however, can take numerous forms. According to the Commission of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration of South Africa these are the form of harassment that employees can face in the workplace:

  • Bullying 
  • Spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone, particularly on gender, race or disability grounds. 
  • Ridiculing or degrading someone, picking on them or setting them up for failure. 
  • Exclusion or victimisation 
  • Unfair treatment, for example, based on race, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, disability, religion, HIV status. 
  • Overbearing supervision or other misuses of power or position 
  • Unwelcome sexual advances 
  • Making threats/comments about job security without foundation. 
  • Deliberately undermining a competent worker by overloading and constant criticism. 
  • Preventing individuals from progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities. 

Here are a few tips to help you deal with gender-based violence in the workplace effectively 

  • Be firm and assertive 

If you are experiencing sexual misconducts in the workplace let your perpetrator know that you do not condone their behaviour and their actions are making you uncomfortable. 

  • Make records 

When you experience any acts of sexual harassment, record precisely what occurred. Be as explicit as would be prudent, recording dates, places, times, and a potential witness. At the point when you report, record whom you reported to, what that individual said, and what occurred accordingly. When the time comes, eligible individuals will read your report, therefore make sure you are precisely clear and objective. Keep all written documents about your experience confidential, away from the office and your work computer. The best way would be to keep hard copy document at home and all soft document on your personal email address. 

  • Report 

Report sexual harassment immediately. Let your supervisor or manager about the matter. Report to the human resources department or any other person in your organisation whose job is to deal with harassment cases. Make sure that you follow the right protocol stated on your organisation’s policy for reporting sexual harassment or any form of harassment. Remember to keep all records of your reported case to your employer. 

  • Keep open communication with your co-workers. 

Find out from your coworkers in your organisation if they have experienced any sort of harassment if so get them to write and report their cases. Be aware of the fact some people may not be open to the idea of reporting the harassment encounters in the workplace.  

  • Seek Support  

Seek support from your friends and family. If there is a time that you need their unconditional support and love, that time is now. Harassment can be a daunting matter for anyone therefore you are going to need people in your corner to help and support you when the going gets tough. 

You can also seek help from the South African Labour Law, speak to them about your rights and how necessary action you need to take if you are being harassed at your workplace or know someone who is being treated unfairly.  

  • Be an advocate 

If you suspect that some of your colleagues are being harassed however they are not forthcoming about the matter, stand up and fight against harassment in the workplace. Let be it known that harassment is an occurring issue in your working environment that needs to be addressed and all those responsible should be brought to question.