Prevalence and management of sexual harassment at the workplace: the case of Uganda Prison Service
Sexual harassment in the work place has drawn a lot of controversy by the many different perceptions and definitions that have characterized it. The controversy is worsened by the fact that discussions on the topic have mostly been done on a western industrial setting; giving it a central view that it is a problem of affluence, hence specific to western societies. Despite this controversy, sexual harassment has been clearly identified as a health hazard that bears heavily on the human rights of an individual. It is a sex discrimination issue that affects the vulnerable in society. That far from being a ‘feminist invention’ meant to distort reality; it’s a discipline problem and has the potential to cause damage to both the individual and the organization. The United Nations Organization (UNO) Employment Commission, women and human rights organizations have through advocacy and their declarations, tried to impress upon member states to legislate against sexual harassment or any other practices that are discriminatory on the basis of gender. Using the Uganda Prisons Service (UPS), this study sought to show that inspite of being a host to many advocacy groups, Uganda has made limited progress towards tackling the issue and minimizing its effects amongst its workforce. Sexual harassment continues to flourish across the social strata. The study highlights the political and socio-economic factors responsible for this pathetic state of affairs and other inadequacies in terms of the necessary legislation to curb this abhorrent behaviour. It also shows the main actors and how they are at play with each other to the detriment of the Uganda Prisons Service. Using both the quantitative and qualitative research methods, the study revealed that there is ‘conducive’ environment allowing sexual harassment to flourish and the laws that could counter the situation are seriously wanting. Even where they are present, they are too general and largely redundant and ineffective. Institutional attempts to resolve sexual harassment cases are also wholly biased towards the men who happen to dominate the UPS and other institutions and are responsible for policy. The study also reveals that although awareness is steadily growing among the population, it’s mainly among the elite in society which makes the fight against it seem a far cry. The study therefore recommends that both policy makers and managers of institutions should critically identify the root causes of sexual harassment, its implications on our society and how best to address it.