Olivia "Babsy” Grange, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture announced on Tuesday that a submission on legislation to address sexual harassment at the workplace is ready for Cabinet’s consideration and approval.
Minister Grange was speaking at a seminar to wrap up a Violence against Women Reduction Project which was a collaborative effort between the Bureau of Women’s Affairs and the Women’s Media Watch-Jamaica. The project was funded by the United Nations Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM.
Miss Grange told participants at the function at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel that “the submission goes to Cabinet in another two weeks,” with the follow up action to take place and “then for the legislation to be passed during this financial year.”
The Youth, Sports and Culture Minister said that at this point there was no recognition of or special provision made for sexual harassment in any of Jamaica’s national policies or laws.
The Minister reinforced the sentiment expressed by the group that “sexual harassment is regarded as a serious problem in the Jamaican society and indications are that the problem needs to be addressed urgently and immediately.”
She said that sexual harassment did not only affect women and girls, who were the main targets, but research findings indicated that men were also victims of sexual harassment and that it also occurred between members of the same sex.
Minister Grange reiterated that the National Sexual Policy spearheaded by the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, sought to protect human dignity and to ensure the protection of the rights of individual to a safe and non-intimidating environment. “But that is not enough and that is why we are moving speedily towards the enactment of sexual harassment legislation,” the Minister concluded, asking for the full support of the public for the initiative.