What is sexual harassment, and how can you deal with it?
The South African government’s Code of Good Practice on Sexual Harassment defines sexual harassment as unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. The unwanted nature of sexual harassment separates it from behaviour that is welcome and mutual.
Know your rights
There are a number of laws in South Africa which protect your right to safety, offer protection from harassment; and promote bodily integrity.
The Protection from Harassment Act1 (Act 17 of 2011) addresses harassment and stalking behaviours, which violate the individual’s Constitutional right to privacy and dignity.
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment2 affords complainants of sexual offences the maximum and least traumatising protection that the law can provide, to introduce measures which seek to enable the relevant organs of state to give full effect to the provisions of this Act and to combat and, ultimately, eradicate the relatively high incidence of sexual offences committed in the Republic
The Labour Relations Act3 is the main act that deals with sexual harassment in the workplace. It has a Code of Good Practice on Sexual Harassment that sets out the best ways to deal with complaints about sexual harassment.
The Employment Equity Act, 55 of 19984 (“the Employment Equity Act“), is the primary piece of legislation which provides a protective mechanism for employees. The Employment Equity Act provides in section 6 that no person may unfairly discriminate against another and that “harassment of an employee is a form of unfair discrimination and is prohibited on any one, or a combination of grounds of unfair discrimination”. Such grounds are listed grounds such as gender, or on any other arbitrary ground.