LINDA NYONDO, Lusaka
THE launch of the anti-gender based violence at workplaces by Zambia Congress of Trade (ZCTU) brings a different perspective to the fight against the vice in Zambia.
The workplace project that tackles GBV at a place of work will first be piloted for four years before it is rolled out throughout the country.
GBV at workplace brings to the fore the need for Government and other stakeholders to fight the vice because it has a negative effect on the social and economic development of Zambia.
The aim of the campaign is to create a peaceful work environment for Zambian employees and improve productivity.
Gender inequality and violence against women affects the lives of every person, regardless of age or gender.
Gender-based violence can occur in both public and domestic spaces, as well as on interpersonal, community, national, regional, and international levels.
“In a work environment, GBV occurs when the weaker person is taken advantage of which makes them uncomfortable,’’ Zambia Congress of Trade Union secretary general Comas Mukuka said in an interview recently.
GBV can also be perpetrated by a person who is employed in an organisation to provide a service to clients such as giving hand-outs. If a person employed to give hand-outs manipulates the situation to take advantage of a woman to start demanding for sex in exchange for the service he is employed to do, then he is perpetrating GBV.
“This problem can be in the work environment without a supervisor knowing that it is actually happening,’’ he said.
ZCTU has in the past dealt with cases of GBV, however, it has been difficult to resolve conflicts of GBV especially in workplaces because of lack of evidence.
However, respective unions have managed to resolve some conflicts and perpetrators have been punished, while in other instances, it has been a challenge because victims have failed to produce evidence.
“Some companies do not have a policy GBV, but even those that have a policy have failed to fight the vice.
Those that do not have a policy need to make use of the collective agreement because the document talks about workers’ rights,’’ Mr Mukuka said.
He advised that the procedure of how a victim of GBV should report the case must be included in a collective agreement.
Mr Mukuka added that it is unfortunate that some victims of GBV have ended up being fired after reporting the matter.
He said Government and other experts of GBV should come up with a law that will deal with all forms of GBV which includes sexual and verbal abuse.
“Lawmakers should enhance the labour and Industrial-related Act to ensure that workers are protected, because most victims of GBV end up being fired once they complain.
GBV is a criminal act, so we use the penal code which is an act which prescribes all criminal activities, however, the penal code only talks about sexual harassment,’’ Mr Mukuka said.
The effects of GBV are trauma; victims of GBV lack concentrating at work resulting in their work performance dropping.
Some victims of GBV can also end up shunning work by producing fake medical reports.
There is need to embrace everyone in the fight against GBV both women and men must be involved.
Mr Mukuka said men should be part of the group to address GBV, starting from the work environment, right up to their communities.
The problem of GBV needs to be all encompassing. There is need for children to be taught the dangers of GBV at a tender age.