Even though it’s difficult to find a generally acceptable definition of sexual harassment in an independent country like our lovely Namibia and because people’s views on what constitutes sexual harassment differ countrywide – for some it is subtle, unwelcome sexual attention, for others it is sexual or suggestive remarks.
For some it is extreme blackmail (e.g. promotion as a reward for sexual favours) and others it is still outright violent behaviour, such as attempted or actual rape.
This has developed into one of the most controversial, complex and perhaps widespread personnel problems in the Namibian government and organizations.
Institutions responsible should come up with some legislative measures to control this practice.
Apparently, it is alleged that 95% of particularly Namibian staff do not report their harassment for the following reasons:
– The fear of losing one’s job;
– The need for a future job reference;
– The possibility of being considered a troublemaker;
– The assumption that nothing would change if harassment was reported;
– Concern about being accused of inviting the harassment;
– A reluctance to draw public attention to private lives.
All these are issues that prevent people at workplaces not reporting these types of sexual abuse or harassment, especially female colleagues in uniform, such as police, prisons and defence.
In conclusion, the Government of the Republic of Namibia should come up with a prevention policy or training programmes aimed at controlling this, such as the inclusion of certain points in the public service charter or the public service staff rules with clear definitions, and how it should be handled at the workplace.
By Bellington Matsalatsala Mabakeng