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We must stand-up against all forms of sexual harassment-Lawyer

Written by  Jan 30, 2018
Private legal practitioner, Nana Serwaa, says the law frowns on sexual harassment and must be condemned by everyone. It is also unlawful to sexualize someone or treat someone as a sex object and an individual can be violated sexually without his or her consent, stating persons offended may report to the police. Sexual harassment she lamented injures the dignity and self-esteem of the person. Aside that, it also causes humiliation, embarrassment and awkwardness, and is a violation of the fundamental human rights of an individual to freedom from discrimination, she added. Lawyer Nana Serwaa was reacting to a purported audio leak between a student and a teacher in one of the senior high schools in the Northern region where the student accused the teacher of sexually harassing her. The said tape captured the student questioning why her teacher took her to a hotel in the bid to have sex with her after giving her GHc30. According to her, it is a breach of contract and code of conduct for any teacher to have any sexual relations with a student even if the student consented to it. The lawyer said women suffer more when it comes to sexual harassment but it is not all of these cases that get redress legally based on evidence. She lamented over the inability of society to go to the source of these problems adding, we need to change the mindset of men who sexually harass people. He said, ‘’sexual harassment happens to women. We have to have a change in the way we raise our children (both men and women). We have to put values in our girls. We should not raise them as sex objects. We need to train ourselves as women and see ourselves trained for a purpose.’’ Using herself as an example, she revealed to the host that, a teacher sexually harassed her when she was in senior school and the university-a situation she described as traumatizing. 'She said, at the university, a lecturer threatened to fail me because I refused to have sex with him. I had to report the incident to the authorities in the school.’’ On her part, the Deputy Gender Minister, Gifty Twum-Ampofo, encouraged women to stand-up against men and lecturers who try to take advantage of them. According to her, women are not sex objects and should allow themselves to be abused. She admonished them to expose irresponsible men who use their office to abuse women. Labour Act defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome, offensive or importunate sexual advances or request made by an employer or superior officer or a co-worker, whether the worker is a man or woman. There are no specific laws to protect women from sexual harassment however Labour Act requires the employer to take action against harassment at workplace. If a worker terminates employment contract because his/her employer did not take action against sexual harassment at workplace, such termination amounts to unfair dismissal. The Criminal Code has provision on indecent assault which includes sexual bodily contact with another person without the consent of the other person or sexual violation of the body of that person in any manner not amounting to carnal knowledge or unnatural carnal knowledge. The indecent assault is a liable offence and on conviction, the perpetrator may have to face an imprisonment term of at least 6 months.

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