Graphic: African News Agency (ANA)

Sexual harassment: noun. Harassment (typically of a woman) in a workplace or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks.

The term was first used by writer Mary Rowe back in 1973, yet the scourge of sexual harassment has grown since then to become a pandemic, affecting women in almost every sphere of life in virtually every society across the globe.

Independent Media's Don't Look Away campaign in support of 16 Days of Activism to end Violence against Women and Children will put sexual harassment in the spotlight during the days ahead.

Our campaign aims to raise awareness around this form of abuse of women and to empower them to act against perpetrators, particularly those in the workplace who prey on women, dehumanise them, compromise their careers and make them feel unsafe.

We will also be calling on men to do their bit - to pledge never to sexually harass women, to call it out when they witness it and to instil values in their children that nurture, rather than harm women.

Patriarchy, cultural norms and the male-dominated society we live in all play a role in empowering perpetrators of sexual harassment, whether in the workplace, on the streets or at social gatherings.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is prohibited in our country and an employee risks being dismissed for misconduct, at the very least.

A civil and/or criminal claim can be made against the perpetrator, as well as the employer.

Graphic: African News Agency (ANA)


The Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 obligates employers to take steps to prevent sexual harassment and if they don't, they could be held liable for the acts of their employees.

Further to that, the Code of Good Practice on Sexual Harassment, a regulation under the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995, gives clear guidelines and procedures to be used when dealing with sexual harassment.

The Protection from Harassment Act of 2010 empowers anyone, even a child, to apply for a protection order in the magistrate's court when they believe they are being harassed.

These are just some of the legal steps a victim can take, but ultimately sexual harassment will only be effectively dealt with through solid education and responsibility.

Use these 16 days to reflect on what we are doing wrong as a society and how through our own silence or behaviour we are empowering, enabling and protecting those who abuse women and children.

Have a look at new or alternative ways to raise our children, free of violence. Whatever you do, Don't Look Away.

* Talk to us on social media using the #DontLookAway hashtag.