As harrowing as it is, sexual harassment is a bitter reality that continues to plague both public and private spaces. Regardless of the setting where it takes place, sexual harassment is an unacceptable act that calls for strict legal action. Luckily, Kenyaprovides such kind of protection to its citizens.
International Labor Law
Although the International Labor Law by the International Labor Organization mandates each member state to ensure a sexual harassment-free work environment in offices, governments need to actively punish perpetrators of such a heinous crime. In that regard, Kenya has strict measures in place, offering better protection to employees. To understand the employee protection policies imposed in Kenya, here is a detailed description of all the laws.
Workplace Workers Rights
In accordance with the declaration of international protection and worker rights, the constitution of Kenya holds a clause under Article 27, which on the first level prohibits any and all kinds of discrimination in the workplace. It protects every employee working in Kenya from abuse/discrimination from the employer and rights violations. This section exists in line with the fundamental constitutional right of every Kenyan- every citizen is equal before the law and has the right of equal protection and benefit from the law.
Although section 27 doesn’t explicitly mention sexual harassment and punitive measures against such an offense, it forms the basis of workplace rights protection laws.
Explicit Work Laws to Eliminate Sexual Harassment – The Sexual Offenses Act
Section 23(1) of the Sexual Offences Act, No.3 of 2006, defines sexual harassment as “continuous unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, lewd verbal or physical gestures by someone in authority.”
It goes on to discuss the victim’s response to inappropriate moves will also be used in the legal proceedings later on. If an employee gives into their superior’s perverted demands to save their job, which resultantly creates an uneasy and offending work environment for them, the system will consider it.
Section 6(1) of the Kenyan employment act describes sexual harassment as any instance in which a superior or co-worker asks an employee for a sexual favor, such as having intercourse, signing a sexual contract, or engaging in any sexual activity in return for better growth opportunities or favoritism among other employees.
Moreover, the use of improper, suggestive language, written or verbal, is also classified as sexual harassment according to the Kenyan employment act.
Sub-clause two of the same section mandates every company with 20 or more employees to make and implement a foolproof punishment plan for perpetrators of sexual harassment. Firms also are to clearly state the definition of sexual harassment as defined by Kenyan law in their bill in order to remove all ambiguities in case of an incident.
Punishment for Sexual Harassers
The law of Kenya decrees no less than 3 years of imprisonment or payment of 100,000 shillings or more as a fine for anyone declared a sexual offender. Be it a verbal or physical form of indecent behavior by a person in authority; the act will be punishable if the alleged perpetrator is proven guilty.