Sexual harassment and abuse of women in the workplace has become prevalent with some high profile cases reported just this year alone. Spurred by the #MeToo movement back in 2017, the accounts of women abuse in the workplace has sadly grown. Vox.com publishes a list of CEOs, politicians and celebrities who have all been accused of women abuse or sexual harassment.
Most recently, and closer to home, shocking statistics have revealed the depth of institutional gender-based violence in the army with women in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) as the most likely to be sexually harassed and assaulted by their uniformed male colleagues – reported by the Mail&Guardian.
Part of the problem is that a significant amount of underreporting about sexual harassment or abuse in the workplace is happening. A whitepaper released by Spot – an artificial intelligence tool where people can anonymously report abuse – showed that while 79% of 1,096 interviewed participants had seen an incident of workplace harassment or discrimination, 77% of them never reported it to human resources.
While there are a number of challenges and reasons for why abuse in the workplace is not reported, the most common one is because people are scared they will lose their jobs. This fear can prevent them from speaking up and calling out inappropriate behaviour which is likely happening in front of their eyes.
To stop women abuse in the workplace, South Africans need to work together, and reduce women abuse at three different levels.
By joining together and empowering people through the right channels, we can increase the reporting of abuse in the workplace, and prevent it from occurring in future.