Government Moving Ahead With Sexual Harassment Legislation

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Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo

Persons who believe that the soon to be introduced legislation on Sexual Harassment will place men at a disadvantage need to "wheel and come again".

Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, made this assertion last weekend during the Biennial Meeting of the National Organisation of Women (NOW) at the Bagnall Point Gallery, Pelican Craft Village, St. Michael.

Noting that her Ministry was pressing ahead to finalise the statute, she said that this particular piece of legislation, which had been on the back-burner since 2004, had encountered a number of setbacks and was still being viewed with suspicion by a large number of men.

The Labour Minister went on to assure Barbadians that the issue of sexual harassment was not seen by Government as one that impacted women only, even though they (females) were the ones largely affected.?? Dr. Byer Suckoo also gave her assurance that the issues raised recently by the Men’s Education Support Association were being addressed to ensure that when the legislation was passed, men would not experience any form of discrimination.

In response to the suggestion by outgoing President of NOW, Yvonne Walkes, that Government should establish a national workplace policy on sexual harassment which would provide a framework for workers’ rights and how persons should be

respected at work, the Labour Minister noted that she was in full agreement with the idea.????

"I support the call for a national workplace policy on sexual harassment.?? This is actually a part of the legislation as the act also has details like who are the persons to report to, who investigates the report and what happens if there is a false report…?? It puts the responsibility on employers to set the policies in place and on the employees to know and observe the policy," she added.

Dr. Byer Suckoo also urged men to come forward and show their support for the legislation.?? "I want a male champion for this legislation.?? Many men have come to me privately and agreed with what we are trying to do….?? We need people to see that it is not just a women’s issue," she contended.

kmoore@barbados.gov.bb

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