Sexual Harassment

Information on FAQS on Sexual Harassment in Kenya including material about female harassment in the workplace, sexual harassment policy, what to do if you are being sexually harassed at work

What does the law say about sexual harassment?

The law denounces any form of sexual harassment in the workplace as well as any other environment. Section 21(2) of the Public Officer Ethics Act, and Employment Act, section 6 specifies the kinds of behaviours that lead to sexual harassment, which an employee can report if affected. The behaviours are specified as:

  • Direct or indirect requests from an employee for sexual intercourse, sexual contact or any other form of sexual activity that contains an implied or express:

(i) promise of preferential treatment in employment

(ii) threat of detrimental treatment in employment; or

(iii) threat about the present or future employment status of the employee;

  • Using language whether written or spoken of a sexual nature
  • Using visual material of a sexual nature
  • Showing physical behaviour of a sexual nature which directly or indirectly subjects the employee to behaviour that is unwelcome or offensive to that employee, and that by its nature has a detrimental effect on that employee’s employment, job performance, or job satisfaction.

Sexual harassment policy as a support structure

The law provides for an environment to control and deal with forms of sexual harassment through a national policy framework. The Employment Act, Section 6, compels every employer with more than 20 workers to set up a workplace policy statement on sexual harassment while Sexual Offences Act, 2006, Section 46 empowers the Minister of Labour to a) prepare a national policy framework to act as a guideline in the implementation, and administration of the Sexual Offences Act in order to secure acceptable and uniform treatment of all sexually-related offences including treatment and care of victims of sexual offences; b) review the policy framework at least once every five years; and c) when required, amend the policy framework.

Once the policy is in existence it is the duty of the employer to ensure that all employees are aware of the existence of the policy. Generally, the policy requires the employer to:

  • Create awareness about sexual harassment by defining it
  • Commit themselves to supporting a working environment that is free from sexual harassment
  • Assure workers of disciplinary measures against any perpetrator
  • Assure protection to the victim
  • Provide an avenue for complaints of sexual harassment.

How can you file a complaint?

One of the requirements of the policy on sexual harassment is to provide the opportunity for victims to make complaints (Employment Act, Section 6). If an employee believes that he/she has been the victim of harassment, or knows of another employee who has, they should report it immediately. Employees should be able to raise concerns and make reports without fear of reprisal. A supervisor who becomes aware of possible harassment is also required to promptly advise management, who should handle the matter in a timely and confidential manner.

Can a victim of sexual assault press charges?

Yes. The Sexual Offences Act, 2006, Section 23, provides that a victim of sexual assault can press charges against an alleged perpetrator. The Act specifies that any person, who being in a position of authority, or holding public office, who persistently makes any sexual advances or requests which he or she knows are unwelcome, is guilty of the offence of sexual harassment and shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than three years or to a fine of not less than one hundred thousand shillings or to both. Section 24 of the Sexual Offences Act, 2006 spells out the maximum penalty of one convicted of sexual harassment.

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Find out more about Trade Unions in Kenya.

The law denounces any form of sexual harassment in the workplace as well as any other environment. Section 21(2) of the Public Officer Ethics Act, and Employment Act, section 6 specifies the kinds of behaviours that lead to sexual harassment, which an employee can report if affected. The behaviours are specified as:

(i) promise of preferential treatment in employment

(ii) threat of detrimental treatment in employment; or

(iii) threat about the present or future employment status of the employee;

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