Sexual Harassment. A case in the sugar sector of Kenya

By Caroline Busaka and Judith Siwa

At a recent IUF Sugar workshop with KUSPAW, Caroline Busaka made general comments about a sexual harassment case she has learned directly from the victim. With no references to personal details, and having changed some of the circumstances, the following is an attempt to keep the core features of the case as it was related by Caroline and Judith.

As it is common in sexual harassment cases, the alleged perpetrator was a member of the managerial staff in the company[1] and, as it common as well, the victim worked under his supervision. The harassing behaviour, which evidently upset the victim, started soon after she had returned to work. For about a month, it became a normal practise for the perpetrator to send her suggestive messages on her mobile phone and, in more than one instance, bluntly asking for sexual favours after having called her to his office. In one occasion, he pressed his demand as he was watching pornography on the computer.

Having recently returned to work, she was afraid of complaining about this harassment because she felt that she would be fired on the spot. And, at the same time, she was not willing to share her case with anyone else. Underlining her vulnerability, Caroline and Judith said, she told them that she even thought that her complain would have resulted in the sacking of the perpetrator, and she didn’t want to be the “cause” that someone lost his job.

For about 30 days she suffered this harassment, until the moment when she decided to talk to her husband. She feared that if the husband would found the manager’s suggestive messages, great damage would be done to her marriage. Then the husband did something close to taking the law into his own hands: he confronted, and threatened, the manager to stop harassing his wife. The manager did stop, and was later transferred to another section.

What happened next is also illustrative of how negative (any type of) harassment can be at the workplace. Until she worked under the supervision of the perpetrator, she couldn’t progress within the company because she wouldn’t agree to the common quid pro quo condition of sexual harassment: sex for promotion. After the manager left the section, she has been promoted and is now in a position that commands much more responsibility than before.

Background information


 

[1] We use “alleged” because the case was never brought to a hearing and decision within the company, but we do not doubt that such adjective should be removed.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.iuf.org/sugarworkers/sexual-harassment-case-sugar-sector-kenya/

1 comment

    • jackie on May 4, 2016 at 3:38 am

    thanks Caro and Judy for confronting sexual harassment and coming up boldly. something should be do immediately
    bravo!

Comments have been disabled.