Violence against women is a violation of human rights. It is discrimination against women through the acts of gender‐based violence. Workplace violence is an occupational violence in the form of physical abuse or threat, sexual or emotional harassment. Compared to men only few women’s who have higher degrees are working in higher post otherwise uneducated and semi skilled women are working in industries and organizations.
Majority of women are not safe in their workplace as they are the victim of many types of gender based violence. They are more likely to experience physical, emotional and sexual assaults. In most of the cases, women may have been victim of emotional or sexual violence since long but they don’t identify that is ‘violence’. Many cases go unreported even if realized because victim is ashamed to open up due to social stigma, economic condition, illiteracy and lack of confidence.
Identify the emotional violence
The perpetrator may be supervisor, colleague, staff, service receiver or client and anyone whom we deal with in our workplace. Giving inappropriate gifts, following around and paying excessive attention and stalking in social media is the process how perpetrators develop the root of potential violence in future. Aggressive eye contact, bullying, teasing, name calling, spreading rumors, embarrassing someone in public is emotional violence. Supervisors may try to insult and attempt to scare, isolate, control the junior level staffs which may lead to the physical and emotional assaults later on.
Identify the early signs of sexual violence
Women need to identify those symptoms that may lead to the extreme form of violence like rape in future. Common forms of sexual violence practices include physically blocking a person’s movements (standing in their way), ‘accidentally on purpose’ brushing up against a person and staring or looking their body up and down. Similarly, sharing jokes and stories about sexual experiences showing or displaying of pornographic material (porn videos, gif, and images), sending offensive emails, letters, sharing images of a sexual nature, repeatedly asking for dates and asking for sexual favors is sexual violence. Making insulting comments about someone’s gender identity or asking about someone’s sexual orientation is regarded as sexual violence. Inappropriate and suggestive touching, kissing, rubbing of a person’s body or clothing, making sexually offensive gestures, remarks and facial expressions
Violence pervades the lives of many people around the world, and touches all of us in some way. The occupational violence violates women’s right to a life in safety. This results in physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women. Verbal abuse, swearing, scolding, uses of offensive language affects the victim psychologically. Women experience anger and tiredness from work. The emotional violence hurt in feelings and develops negative motivation towards the work. They become victim of depression and frustrations due to coercion and deprivation of liberty.
The Government of Nepal has enacted a specific legislation addressing sexual harassment at workplace with the objective to protect the right of every individual to work in a safe environment on May 08, 2016. Pursuant to Section 4 of the The Sexual Harassment at Workplace Prevention Act, 2015 (2071) any of the unsolicited acts committed by, or caused to be committed by, any person in abuse of his/her position, power or by imposition of any type of coercion, undue influence, or enticement would constitute sexual harassment. The sexual harassment includes physical contact and advances; showing or displaying of pornographic material, expressing sexual motives by way of written, verbal, or non-verbal means, demand or proposal for sexual favors; and flirting or harassing with sexual motive.
Complaint Mechanism under the Act
The Sexual Harassment Prevention Act envisages two internal and external complaint mechanisms. Under the internal complaint handling mechanism the manager or the head of the department have the authority to decide on administrative matters. The head of office has power to take departmental action against the perpetrator pursuant to the internal employee service rules. While under the external complaint handling mechanism, the Chief District Officer (“CDO”) of the concerned district is the initial complaint handling authority.
Punishment under the Act
Section 12 of the Act provides that any person who has committed sexual harassment under the Act may be punished with imprisonment of up to 6 months, and / or fine of up to Nepalese Rupees 50,000. The Section also provides that any employer failing to comply with the duties and responsibilities imposed by the Act, may be punished with fine of up to Nepalese Rupees 25,000.
Workplace violence can strike anywhere, and no one is immune. The best protection employers can offer is to establish a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence against or by their employees. Violence ignored is the violence accepted. First, it should be noted that early signs of potential workplace violence should not be ignored and should not be left for another day. It is very essential to negotiate dignity at work policies and procedures in order to establish a work friendly environment. The organization should encourage male staff to become ambassadors against Gender Based Violence and encourage victims to report violence. The organization should organize awareness campaigns and interactions programs against workplace violence frequently to increase the confidence to speak out against violence.