Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Cabinet to get sex bill, at last

Published:Sunday | December 6, 2015 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
Sandrea Falconer

The long-promised sexual-harassment legislation should be before the Cabinet tomorrow and could be tabled in Parliament ahead of the Christmas break.

"I am hoping to have it tabled by the end of the calendar year. If not, early in the new year," de facto Information Minister Sandrea Falconer told The Sunday Gleaner late last week.

According to Falconer, the Mark Golding-chaired legislative committee, a subcommittee of the Cabinet, gave clearance for the legislation last Wednesday after a final review.

Falconer, who also has responsibility for gender affairs, said she welcomes the draft legislation for which Cabinet issued instructions to the chief parliamentary counsel last year.

She said the Portia Simpson Miller administration inherited a draft sexual-harassment policy from the previous administration and decided to move it from policy to legislation.

 

SUFFERING IN SILENCE

 

Falconer has repeatedly argued about the need for the law, as she charged that it was unfortunate that many victims of sexual harassment suffered in silence.

She said too many individuals felt that complaints about sexual harassment were a waste of time, while others chose not to make a report out of fear.

Despite protection from the Whistleblower Legislation (2009) individuals are still fearful of reporting unwanted sexual overtures, and Falconer is hoping that both men and women will use the law, when it is passed, to help themselves.

A Bureau of Women's Affairs 2008 survey found that most persons who reported sexual harassment identified their workplace environment as where it took place. Studies also showed that 71 per cent of the victims were women, while 29 per cent were men.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com