Over the last years, immense focus and energy toward ending GBV in our country have been directed in communities with harmful and retrogressive social-cultural norms. Very little has been done to address GBV cases in both public and private workplaces in Kenya.
The silence of workers, employees and customers in both public and private institutions do not decimate the practicability and happening of gender-based violence in Kenya. In fact, we should be more worried that this empowered proportion of the population cannot identify and report the various forms of GBV.
Similarly, like the community, there exists a magnitude level of power imbalance that sets the stage for GBV to thrive. In addition, it becomes inconsequential when the employees are dependent on their jobs to put food on the table and are afraid to lose their jobs. Sadly, they are thus forced to brave physical, sexual, economical, and emotional violence. There is much harassment, sex for favors, stalking, overworking and underpaying, sexual coercion, and physical torture
Many employers in both private and public workplaces are taking advantage of the desperate population who require their support. For instance, a real story is narrated in Kilifi County of an adolescent girl who was raped in the community, went to report to a police station, and one police officer on duty raped her.
This shows the level of impunity in our workplaces that needs a keen look and a lot of focus. More importantly, there is a need to highlight boldly that the workplaces are GBV-free and specify the reporting pathways if it happens. Such intervention is similar to the corruption signage that underlines that you are entering a corruption-free zone
Workplace incivility is a common form of GBV that pretty much goes unnoticed and inflicts emotional violence. Most often it is an interplay between the bosses in higher positions and the junior employees who feel the need of exercising authority so as to stamp authority. Most institutions lack an effective code of conduct that draws the boundaries at institutions thus making it harder to address GBV.
Many workplaces hate being caught up in scandals thus they avoid at all costs anything that could tie them to negligence. For instance, if GBV cases occur, most would rather give the survivor and or the perpetrator transfer. This warrants a repeat of the same behavior since perpetrators are able to carry out their duties normally. They need to face disciplinary measures as dictated by the institution’s code of conduct. In as much as an institution would like to protect its own image and ‘staff’, it should take into account that all person matter and an institution is nothing without people holding themselves in high regard.
There is a need to put a spirited fight against GBV in workplaces for optimal work delivery and to preserve the health of the workers and customers.