The Ministry of Labour and Public Service is currently seeking, through parliament, the ammendment of laws related to sexual harassment in the workplace.
The Minister of Public Service and Labour, Anastase Murekezi, stated recently that current laws on sexual harassment are outdated and seem to not give fair justice to the victims.
The 1982 law against the vice offers only the maximum punishment as a fine of Rwf 200,000 and a maximum jail sentence of five years, a lighter sentence compared to the gravity of the crime involved.
Cases of sexual harassment in the workplace are not new and a sizeable number of victims have already come out to speak about their ordeal.
Individuals, both in public and private institutions, have been accused of sexually harassing their female subordinates. This is against the principle of meritocracy and fair and equal treatment of employees. Above all, it’s a violation of human rights and abuse of office by those entrusted with authority.
In the recent past, there have been reports from universities citing incidents where lecturers under mark or fail female students because they turned down their sexual advances. Some officials have also previously been accused of seeking to hire female applicants not on the basis of merit, but for sexual favours.
Although the situation may still be under control, all these are corrupt tendencies that should be stopped henceforth.
Sufficient legal framework must also be put in place and enforced to guard against unfair sackings of employees.
The renewed focus by the line ministry to have the bad laws amended is significant, and should set the stage for a new order.