It was an emotional day today, for some women in the workplace who say they have been victims of sexual abuse on the job.
One participant who works at a leading hotel said they were depressed and contemplated suicide because of the sexual harassment at work and said she couldn’t leave the job because of her financial obligations and because it was her only source of income.
Another participant shared that they were unlawfully terminated because of their sexual orientation and they were bullied and harassed because of how they looked and how they dressed.
The women were part of a round table discussion including 20 participants from various NGO and legal departments. They met to discuss the urgent need to implement the ILO C 190 convention.
Women Against Rape and faith-based organizations were also part of the forum which was held in the conference room of the Public Library.
Antigua and Barbuda is the only one in the English-speaking Caribbean to ratify the international policy on gender-based violence in the workplace, but it’s yet to be implemented and it’s urgent because more women are coming forward to report sexual harassment in the workplace.
Women Against Rape (WAR) President Alexandrina Wong said there has been a recent increase in harassment and violence in the workplace that have been reported to WAR and some of them have been very traumatic to the survivors
“Some of them have been forced to quit their jobs because of the manner of how it is being handled by the middle and upper management levels in their places of work,” Wong said.
Wong said WAR believes that based on these developments, public awareness is very important.
“The main tool we use today to carry through our discussion is the ILO 190 Convention which was signed by the government more than a year ago. We are also due to report to the ILO by May of this year as to what we achieved since we signed that convention…there has been little done,” she said.
“How can we offer protection to our women folk in the workforce, how can we help them and their families to understand the importance of the ILO Convention which offers them some form of security in the workplace,” Wong said
With the sharing of stories of survivors of all ages, from all levels of professions here, WAR has found that sexual harassment and violence in the workplace is a critical issue and many women have been negatively impacted.
“Having to quit one’s job is a tough decision that any woman or man has to make especially in these post-COVID times. I strongly believe that as we go forward that women need to know that there are spaces, they can go to seek further advice…where they can reach out to and get the support that they so need and what the reporting pathway looks like,” Wong said.
Wong said the government has the responsibility for the safety and well-being of every person in Antigua and Barbuda but Wong says it seems that the policy for harassment in the workplace is stuck at a particular point.
Sexual harrassment against any gender should be treated with serious consequences. Both male and female harrass each other and even their own gender these days. Stop the bullying, Stop harrassment Now
The government ministers are the biggest sexual harassers in the workplace. In real countries sexual harassment is taken seriously by employers Human Resources Management team. It is one of the major organizational policy new hire would signed when receiving employment. Organizations in Antigua and Barbuda should make sexual harassment in the workplace a no no as apart of company policy.
It says reports of are on the rise not harassmemt is on the rise
I doubt the latter can get any worse….its perrenial as the grass