Government institutes committee to fight sexual violence at work

The Minister of Gender,  Ms Betty Amongi (second left), the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr Peter Kibenge, with  some members of the technical working group against sexual harassment and violence in Kampala on December 8, 2022.PHOTO/PETER SSERUGO

What you need to know:

  • A 2021 survey done by Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) shows that about nine in every 10 women (86 percent) had ever experienced an act of violence at their workplace within the 12 months preceding the survey. Verbal abuse was the most frequent form of workplace violence at 84 percent.

The Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development has instituted a committee to fight sexual violence and harassment in workplaces.
The committee,  which was launched in Kampala yesterday, constitutes 25 members from ministries, state agencies and non-governmental organisations.

The institutions and ministries involved include International Labour Organisation, World Bank, UNAIDS, European Union, UNFPA, UN Women, National Organisation of Trade Unions, Unicef, ministries of Foreign Affairs,  Internal Affairs, Justice and Constitutional Affairs , among others.
Mr Aggrey David Kibenge, the Gender ministry’s Permanent Secretary, said the committee will provide oversight and strategic technical advisory services to the minister and support all initiatives aimed at ending sexual harassment and violence at workplaces.

“In line with the National Employment Policy 2011 and the Employment Act of 2006, which we are in the process of amending, the ministry in consultation with key stakeholders, initiated the establishment of this national technical working group to end violence and sexual harassment in the world of work,” Mr Kibenge said.
 He said research had shown that sexual harassment has a strong correlation with job dissatisfaction and disengagement. Mr Kibenge added that women are more susceptible to sexual harassment than men.
Ms Joyce Katende, an official from the Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Uganda), said violence and harassment against women in the workplace remains a major human rights worldwide.

“The high rate of violence is enabled by the cultural and societal attitudes that justifies different forms of discrimination against women which includes violence and the lack of monitoring or punishment. Sexual violence manifests in different spaces, including in the workplace, which limits women’s ability to fully achieve other rights such as impeding their political participation,” she said.
Ms Betty Amongi, the Gender minister, said Uganda Bureau of Statistics data of 2018 shows that only 34 percent of workplace sexual harassment victims report being violated.

 “We are addressing gaps in the law; two weeks ago, I presented to Parliament an amendment in the Employment Act and in that amendment, now a Bill I am going to present on the flow of Parliament today (yesterday), is making it mandatory for all workplaces to have sexual harassment measures including placing in an open place [a notice] that sexual harassment is not allowed and giving private mechanisms of reporting,” Ms Amongi said.