Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Solid as a WROC

Published:Monday | May 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Going to work is a routine for many and we take our safety for granted, but there are women that have gone to work and have someone violate their space and tainted the profession they love.

Sexual harassment is defined as "the persistent unwelcome directing of sexual remarks and looks, and unnecessary physical contact at a person, usually a woman, especially in the workplace", by the Collins Dictionary.

Women's Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC), a non-profit, non-governmental organisation established on International Women's Day, March 8, 1983, aims to empower women and strengthen families and communities by trying to assist victims. While they work to help the growth of women, they also offer counselling to women who have been sexually harassed.

Executive director of the centre, Nikeisha Sewell Lewis, does admit that they are faced with several roadblocks since there is not an actual bill in Jamaica that covers sexual harassment. They do consider it as gender-based violence, and as such they do try to educate women about the issue, and that it is not normal. They advise victims to speak to the human resource manager or personnel in order to set up certain precautions.

She has admitted that the group has tried to advocate for a proper framework and is still working on it. In the meantime, counsel victims. If the issue has escalated and leads to wrongful dismissal of the complainant, they do offer and recommend legal counsel to the victims.

"We have lawyers that we recommend, especially ones on the cost-effective side, since there are quite a few women that might not be able to afford the common legal fees," Sewell-Lewis tells Flair.

Irrespective of the limitations of the centre, they do their best to educate and help victims. Outside of the emotional and legal help they also educate young women as they work towards gender equality.

Currently, they are working on projects such as a partnership with the National Integrity Action on the Strengthening a Culture of Integrity in Jamaica (SCIJ) project, and the Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC) with the University of the West Indies. SCIJ seeks to enhance the capacity, role and contribution of women and communities for a social movement against corruption, with integrity, gender equality and justice being in the forefront.

PROMAC encourages civil society advocacy from a human rights approach for maternal and child health in Jamaica. They also offer skills training for at-risk youths and has a senior citizens' club.