• Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019
  • Last Update : 01:06 pm

Getting tough on sexual harassment

  • Published at 11:58 pm May 5th, 2019
Photo: BIGSTOCK
Photo: BIGSTOCK

We as a country have to change our legal lethargy on the matter

A 2009 High Court order for educational institutes and workplaces to form committees against sexual abuse -- which would have women in leadership positions investigating cases -- with clearly defined guidelines on sexual harassment and assault in addition to punishment, have so far experienced widespread neglect. 

Why has this been the case? What exactly have we been waiting for the last 10 years? 

The time for waiting was over a decade ago.

In fact, our neglect has been reflected by the fact that the number incidents of sexual harassment and rape have continued to rise.

And the numbers don’t lie: In this last year, 1,139 women and children were subjected to physical assault and sexual violence. Of the 211 children who were victims of sexual harassment, 164 were cases of child rape. 

This is on top of other cases of gang rape and other forms of violence carried out against women, to say nothing of the innumerable other cases which go unreported. 

The reasons for this are painfully obvious.

Not only have we, as a society, failed to provide the victims of such incidents with the necessary support required, we have also failed to implement directives set by experts to ensure that such cases are reduced.

We as a country have to change our legal lethargy on the matter, by ensuring that victims have the confidence and support required to come forward and that these cases are handled with the utmost seriousness, we must also change our very mindset, and the social stigma and discrimination which have become inherent in our existence. 

There must be widespread changes carried out, from the root to the stem, if we as a nation are to better ourselves when it comes to reducing, preventing, and eliminating cases of sexual abuse, assault, and rape in the future. 

The time to act is now.