Every ministry and department must develop and clearly display a policy against sexual harassment in the workplace, affirming their commitment to maintaining a safe and healthy environment. This directive comes from a circular issued on June 3.

A committee on sexual harassment must therefore be created in each ministry or department as soon as a complaint is filed. This committee must be composed of a president and at least two members from sections different from those of the injured agent and the alleged harasser. A psychologist can be consulted if necessary.

The main functions of the Sexual Harassment Committee are to deal with all complaints impartially and in strict confidentiality. The committee must also give the aggrieved official and the alleged harasser the opportunity to explain themselves. The committee must also hear any other party concerned separately and thus determine whether or not there has been a case of sexual harassment; and make appropriate recommendations to the supervisor or the Cabinet Secretary and Head of Civil Service, as the case may be, within a specified time frame.

The supervisor must designate an appropriate manager to receive complaints of sexual harassment. An aggrieved official can thus contact this designated official to register his complaint. In addition, this official must note the name, address, rank, assignment and contact information of the aggrieved official, as well as the facts of the alleged incident and details concerning the alleged harasser.

The designated person will therefore inform the victim of their rights, including reporting the matter to the Commissioner of Police, other authorities such as the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) or the Ministry of Labour, or handling the matter at the ministry and department level.

Also, when a case of sexual harassment is established by the grievance committee, disciplinary action may be taken against the harasser in accordance with the regulations of the Public Service Commission and the Disciplined Forces Service Commission.

Hostile environment

According to the International Labor Organization, sexual harassment is defined as any unwanted behavior of a sexual nature that makes a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated. This includes situations where an individual is solicited for sexual activity in exchange for a professional advantage, as well as those that create a hostile, intimidating or humiliating environment for the individual.

Sexual harassment also includes any behavior of a sexual nature that violates the dignity of women and men, is considered unwanted, unacceptable, inappropriate and offensive to the person targeted, and that creates an intimidating, hostile, unstable or offensive work environment. .

What is sexual harassment
Sexual harassment can be physical, verbal and non-verbal. Examples of behavior that may be considered sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:

(i) unwanted touching, hugging or kissing;
(ii) insistent or lustful gazes;
(iii) unwanted suggestive remarks or jokes;
(iv) unwanted invitations for sex or persistent requests for a date;
(v) unwanted oral or written statements of a sexual nature addressed to or in the presence of a person;
(vi) intrusive questions about another person's privacy or body;
(vii) unnecessary familiarities, such as frequently brushing against someone;
(viii) insults or taunts of a sexual nature;
(ix) displaying sexually explicit images, posters, screensavers, emails, tweets, SMS or instant messages, or accessing websites with sexually explicit content in the presence of another person in circumstances where they feel humiliated, offended or intimidated;
(x) inappropriate advances on social media;
(xi) conduct that also constitutes a criminal offense, such as physical assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, harassment, or obscene communications; And
(xii) all of the above in the form of threat or blackmail for employment and/or advancement, or lack thereof, or dismissal or other professional harm if the person concerned refuses.

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