Kayan’s Legal Department has published a position paper regarding employer responsibilities for the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace. The position paper specifies critical requirements as defined by the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law (1998) and its stipulations, as well as recommendations that will ensure employers implement the law and in doing so, guarantee a safe, harassment-free working environment for employees.
Since 2010, Kayan has been monitoring Arab local authorities in regards to enforcement of the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law, and by demanding thorough investigations for all reported complaints and incidents. The findings of an in-depth mapping Kayan’s legal department conducted in 2014 of the implementation of the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law reveal that of the 34 local Arab authorities and 8 civil institutions surveyed, 97% have not run a single required workshop for their employees concerning sexual harassment, and only one institution has initiated an activity to raise awareness about sexual harassment. The survey also revealed that only 8 local authorities complied to the law by publishing the procedure regarding sexual harassment prevention, and only one distributed it to their employees internally. On the other hand, four social change organizations – out of the eight surveyed – had distributed the prevention procedure to their staff.
In light of these findings, Rawyah Handaqlu, a lawyer in Kayan’s legal department, said: “This survey reflects the reality and work environment of the Arab women, who don’t have a safe work environment that is free from sexual harassment. The lack of both knowledge of the law and its enforcement make it easier for a woman to be exposed to sexual harassment. Thus, the victim faces two choices: either she accepts the humiliating situation and the fear of losing her source of income, or she tenders her resignation and leaves the job market. Compounding this is her apprehension of societal ostracism because she dares to lodge a complaint against the harasser.”
Among the most important recommendations in the position paper are: that every employer should submit a detailed report to the Ministry of Economy or another ministry responsible for this issue detailing the steps he is taking regarding the prevention of sexual harassment. In addition, the law should be amended to require the assignment of an Appointee for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment and providing instructions regarding the definition of their roles, the percentage of the position, the salary, and the required skills of these appointees. In addition, the law should incorporate sanctions for those workplaces that do not assign an appointee for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment.
In the near future, Kayan’s legal department will prepare and distribute an amended, simplified, comprehensive extract of the regulations on the issue of preventing sexual harassment. This crucial step comes as a part of Kayan’s role in urging Arab local authorities specifically, and the employers at large, to enforce the sexual harassment law. The mapping and the publication of the position paper were carried out as part of the Kayan legal department’s ongoing program to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Kayan’s legal department also provides legal consultation and representation for women on sexual harassment at the workplace, and works to raise societal awareness of this issue that is a major threat to women’s rights and safety in the workplace.