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A critical examination of the pandemic of sexual harassment in the South African workplace.

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South African just like many international countries is a country sadly marked by severe violence especially violence against women. Women face violence both at home in the form of domestic violence as well as in the workplace in the form of sexual harassment. Many studies have been conducted over the years showing us that the statistics surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace is on the increase. Women face sexual harassment no matter the role they may play within the workplace. However, the Constitution the highest law in the land states that no person may be discriminated or harassed in any form within their place of work. This sadly does not decrease the high percentage of sexual harassment cases that do not get reported over time. This is due to women being afraid to report the sexual harassment. This may be for an array of reasons such as fear of losing their jobs or being labelled as trouble- makers. Sexual harassment has over the years in various legal contexts had different definitions however; the South African definition states that the attention that sexual harassment derives must be unwanted. Harassers may range from the ordinary co-worker, to the employer and even a third party such as a client or customer can be the harasser. It is also possible that any innocent acts can also be misconstrued to becoming an act of sexual harassment therefore it is important that readers are aware of what acts constitute sexual harassment and what does not within the working environment. This can also be possible by looking to international law to gauge an international perspective regarding sexual harassment. In an employment context employers are obliged to have sexual harassment policies in place in order to protect their employees from any unwanted sexual harassment. Employees who are faced with sexual harassment are not necessarily female as male employees also face sexual harassment therefore policies and procedures are open to protecting all employees facing unwanted sexual attention or harassment or the employer will be liable to the employee in the form of damages. However, damages are not the only remedy available to employees facing unwanted sexual harassment because the sexual harassment can lead to the employee whose productivity at the workplace or health condition has deteriorated to the extent the complainant suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder or whose emotional well-being had been affected due to the harassment.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.