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Indonesia and South Africa collaborate to end sexual harassment in the workplace - November 1, 2016

Representatives from WageIndicator South Africa and Indonesia, with trade union KSBSI, met in an historic workshop in Jakarta, Indonesia, to compare legislation and policies and look at establishing a way forward to end sexual harassment in the workplace.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a global issue, one that affects mainly women workers around the world. It makes sense, then, for those working to fight sexual harassment to join forces and compare strategies and policies. Such a meeting took place at the end of October in Jakarta, between South Africa and Indonesia.

Representatives from WageIndicator, KSBSI, trade unions, employers, NGOs and government gathered in Jakarta on October 19 to discuss the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, and to seek collective ways of working to end it. Organised by WageIndicator Indonesia and South Africa branches, and KSBSI, the event took the form of a workshop and discussion to compare legislation, policies and collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) in Indonesia and South Africa, and to look at forging a way forward.

Workers in both Indonesia and South Africa experience sexual violence, in various forms, in the workplace. This can range from sexual comments, to inappropriate touching, to even rape. Both countries have various forms of legislation to combat sexual violence against women. Indonesia has, for example, the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, and the Criminal Code of Indonesia. South Africa has several laws including the Labour Relations Act, the Employment Equity Act and the Constitution of South Africa. These are very useful “blueprints” for creating CBAs and workplace policies.

The workshop examined what legislation is currently in place, how useful it is, and how workplaces – including trade union members and employers – can establish safe and effective ways of reporting, resolving, and ultimately ending, sexual violence in the workplace. The workshop explored how establishing strong CBAs and policies will ultimately lead to strong national legislation specifically against sexual violence in the workplace.

Karen Rutter from WageIndicator South Africa (Mywage) shared the experiences that she has had working with trade unions and other partners. South Africa’s laws on sexual harassment are particularly strong, protecting workers and placing responsibility on employers - which provides workers with a supportive framework to report incidences. What also helps is establishing a strong network of different role players – including gender groups and legal aid organisations – to build a strong resource base.

Nadia Pralitasari from WageIndicator Indonesia (Gajimu) and Ira Rachmawati from KSBSI encouraged Indonesian delegates to the workshop to share their experiences, and commit to carrying the struggle forward – particularly with the aim of introducing CBAs to the workplace, and ultimately establishing legislation and policies.

The workshop will also generate material, including a booklet and sexual harassment module for trade union members, employers, NGOs and government ministries to use in the fight against sexual violence in the workplace.