THE CENTRE FOR AFRICAN CULTURAL EXCELLENCE
WRITIVISM ANTI – SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY
1.1. The Centre for Africa Cultural Excellence (CACE) aspires towards creating spaces that are conducive for free expression of all people, irrespective of their race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation and other identities. We condemn sexual harassment in all spaces that we are associated with, and will deal with conduct that we deem to constitute sexual harassment seriously, including involving judicial and quasi-judicial processes.
1.2. This document applies to all individuals who are involved in any CACE activity or those associated with the organisation, including staff, volunteers, facilitators, mentors, judges, readers, editors, speakers, guests, and participants.
1.3. Our definition of Sexual harassment includes all acts of unwelcome sexual attention as outlined in (2) below.
1.4. All individuals involved in our activities and programmes, including but not limited to regular employees, supporters, speakers, guests, mentors, judges, readers, emerging writers, publishers, speakers, volunteers, and consultants, are entitled to exist in environments free from sexual harassment.
2. What is Sexual Harassment?
2.1. Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, irrespective of whether it interferes with work, productivity or general sense of wellbeing of others. It is also unwanted verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature and unwelcome or repeated sexual attention intended to create a hostile environment or be a basis for decisions on the target. Sexual harassment is manifested in a wide range of behavioural patterns and may typically take the following forms:
2.1.1. Physical conduct of a sexual nature which involves unwanted physical contact, ranging from unnecessary touching, patting, pinching, brushing against another employee’s body, to assaulting and coercing another into sexual intercourse (the last two being criminal offences).
2.1.2. Verbal conduct of a sexual nature which may include unwelcome sexual advances, propositions or pressure for sexual activity, suggestions for social activity outside the normal and prescribed spaces, offensive flirtations, suggestive remarks, innuendoes or lewd comments.
2.1.3. Non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature, which refers to the display of pornographic or sexually suggestive pictures, objects or written materials; leering, whistling or making sexually suggestive gestures.
2.2. In creative or artistic spaces, sexual harassment is particularly offensive, and constitutes an abuse of power when engaged in by any individual who is in a position to influence the career, and work conditions, or future prospects of the recipient of such attention. It can occur at all levels and may be heterosexual (i.e. man-to-woman or woman-to man) or homosexual (i.e. man-to-man or woman-to-woman). Most cases of sexual harassment fall into two broad categories:
2.2.1. Abuse of authority: Sexual Harassment in a situation in which an individual’s conditions of career progress depend on whether she/he submits to or rejects the advances or behaviour (verbal or physical) of an aggressor. For example: An individual threatens to not provide a recommendation for a junior colleague for a career opportunity or in other endeavours outside the Writivism and CACE programming, or to take punitive action unless he/she grants sexual favours. The junior colleague threatens to disclose his/her sexual relationship with a senior colleague if he/she is not granted a favour.
2.2.2. Hostile Environment: This is a situation in which an individual’s behaviour (verbal or physical) is offensive or intimidating to other members, or interferes with their performance. For example: An individual habitually uses sexually-explicit language, and makes sexually oriented offensive remarks in the presence of his/her colleagues. S/he has been told that this behaviour is offensive, yet he/she persists. Scenario: An individual repeatedly hugs and kisses colleagues, and addresses them in an intimate manner (e.g. honey, sweetheart, darling, etc.). He/she has been told that such behaviour is not appropriate and that some colleagues are offended by it yet such his/her behaviour persists.
3. When does behaviour become Sexual Harassment?
3.1. Social behaviour, which is mutually acceptable to the parties involved does not constitute sexual harassment, even if it is of a sexual nature. Offensive acts are characterized as sexual harassment because they are unwelcome, unsolicited, unwanted and unreciprocated by the recipient.
3.2. Regardless of whether the harasser considers the behaviour to be offensive or not, conduct becomes sexual harassment when it is forced upon a recipient against their will and the recipient makes it clear to the harasser that he/she does not approve of the behaviour but the harasser persists. This is an important distinction, which sets sexual harassment apart from friendly, welcome social behaviour, which is of a mutually acceptable nature.
4. Inappropriate Behaviour
4.1. The following are a few (but not exhaustive) examples of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour:
- Whistling at persons
- Lewd jokes
- Repeated requests for a date after being told ‘no’
- Suggestive posters or calendars
- Foul language
- Unwanted letters or poems
- Sitting or gesturing sexually
- Sexual favours in return for employment rewards; threats if sexual favours are not provided
- Sexually explicit pictures including calendars, posters or email messages
- Sexually explicit remarks
- Unwelcome, unnecessary touching
- Sexually suggestive touching
- Using position of authority to request a date.
- Inquiries into a colleague’s sex life
- Obscene letters or comments
- Grabbing, forced kissing, fondling
- Sexual assault and rape
4.2. There may also be instances where an individual takes advantage of his/her position of authority to coerce a junior person into an unwelcome relationship or situation. Under these circumstances, the victim may be so intimidated and fearful of reprisal that he/she may succumb to the offender. Any such abuse of power, even if it is not rejected by the victim, constitutes harassment.
5. Preventing Sexual Harassment
5.1. Creating an environment which is free of sexual harassment is every one’s responsibility.
5.2. The single most effective deterrent against sexual harassment is awareness. Persons who are aware of conduct which constitutes sexual harassment are less likely to behave in a manner which is offensive to their colleagues. Unwilling victims who are aware of their rights and avenues of recourse will be more assertive and forthcoming in putting a stop to offensive behaviour.
5.3. As a first step towards dealing with sexual harassment, all individuals associated with CACE activities are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of this policy, particularly with regard to identifying behaviour which constitutes sexual harassment.
5.4. Board members, Directors, Managers, Supervisors, Facilitators, Judges, Readers, and Mentors etc. bear added responsibility of creating an environment free from sexual harassment by:
(a) themselves setting the highest exemplary standards of conduct,
(b) clearly communicating to all individuals participating in CACE activities (most especially new members) the organization’s policy on sexual harassment, and
(c) encouraging an environment of dignity and mutual respect in which sexual harassment is not tolerated.
5.5. Board members, Directors, Managers, Supervisors, Facilitators, Judges, Readers, and Mentors etc. are to play a key role in this effort by ensuring that any incident of unacceptable behaviour, including sexual harassment, intimidation and hostility, is promptly dealt with and corrective action taken.
6. Institutional Structures
6.1. Management: The management shall have the following duties and responsibilities under this policy;
i) Ensure that each complaint is addressed responsibly and impartially facilitating just and fair inquiry process without retribution (for complainants or the witnesses).
ii) Establish the Standing Committee on Sexual Harassment to address the offences and grievances under this policy.
iii) Oversee the implementation of the recommendations from the committee.
iv) Maintain confidentiality and an attitude of empathy at all times towards both the accused and the complainant.
6.2. The Standing Committee on Sexual Harassment: CACE shall have a Standing Committee on Sexual Harassment established by the Directors to deal with all complaints and incidents, grievances, offences and other related cases.
i. The committee will consist of a minimum of three (3) persons (odd numbered) with at least 50% membership held by women provided that at any time the number of male members shall not be less than one-third (1/3).
ii. Members of the committee may appoint a chair for each enquiry sitting or for a specified term of service. The chair shall have the responsibility of coordinating the committee, convening meetings, initiating enquiries and ensuring that the enquiry process is documented.
iii. All members who sit on the committee shall be persons of, and maintain, high credibility and standing and possess the competence to handle such grievances.
iv. Every five years at least half of the committee members will be replaced provided that no member may sit on the committee for more than two consecutive years.
v. The committee is bound to maintain confidentiality on all grievance cases and proceedings and will give written recommendations after the completion of such cases.
vi. Any dissenting opinion among the committee members during or at the conclusion of an enquiry shall be noted along with reasons for the dissent.
7. Procedures in dealing with Sexual Harassment
7.1. Discouraging Unwelcome Behaviour: The cardinal rule is that CACE and every individual have a collective responsibility to discourage unwelcome behaviour right from the beginning. Everyone, victim or not, has an obligation to make it clear to an offender that his/her behaviour is unwelcome, that it is offensive and that it should cease immediately.
7.2. Empowerment: An effective awareness programme will discourage offensive behaviour. Nonetheless, once it occurs, the most effective weapon in dealing with sexual harassment is victim empowerment. No person should have to accept or deal with sexual harassment. All individuals have rights and organizational protection and support is available. It is important that individuals who feel that they are being sexually harassed know that:
a) They are not alone – their colleagues can help.
b) CACE will aggressively pursue all reported cases of sexual harassment.
c) It is not their fault – they are the victims, not the offenders
d) They should not, and do not have to live with sexual harassment.
7.2.1. The circumstances of each case will determine the most appropriate approach for handling the situation. Regardless of the approach (formal or informal), all reports of sexual harassment shall be handled discreetly to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
7.3. Redress Procedures: All individuals shall have two options of addressing cases of sexual harassment, viz: formal and informal. For purposes of initiating action by the organization against offending persons, all such cases shall be registered formally with the Standing Committee on Sexual Harassment described in section 4 of this policy.
7.3.1. Resolution without involving a Third Party: The motives of behaviour, which is, or is perceived to be offensive are often benign, unintentional or misunderstood. These incidents normally can be resolved quickly and with minimal strain on relationships, and usually require the aggrieved individual to inform the offender that his/her behaviour is not welcome and that it should cease. If this informal approach is unsuccessful, then the individual may have no choice but to pursue more formal channels.
7.3.2. Resolution involving a Third Party:
184.108.40.206. Where an aggrieved individual is not comfortable in handling a situation on his/her own because of his/her level, status, culture, etc., then said individual may seek the advice or assistance of a third party. In such cases, the request for assistance shall normally be verbal and shall be considered informal until a written complaint is lodged.
220.127.116.11. Individuals can get support and help from a friend or colleague.
18.104.22.168. Individuals who feel they are being sexually harassed and who need assistance in dealing with the problem should find a supportive person whom they feel comfortable talking to and who they trust to maintain their confidentiality. They should remind the person that their confidentiality is extremely important.
22.214.171.124. Individuals are strongly recommended to also seek the advice, and help from a Board member, or the Directors, who can advise them and who may be able to discreetly discuss the matter with them and the offender with a view to reaching a consensus through third party intervention.
126.96.36.199. Maintain a written record of the events. It is strongly advised that individuals maintain a detailed description of all incidents, dates, places, witnesses and their feelings at the time. This will be important in the event of an investigation.
7.4. Recourse to Formal Redress: Whereas an offended person may invoke the support of a third intervening party to broker a settlement with an accused person, the individual may also opt to pursue the formal channel for recourse. Where this occurs, the committee may use evidence of the informal process in its deliberations to determine the case.
7.5. Filing a Complaint
7.5.1. Irrespective of whether an aggrieved individual has sought informal resolution of an incident of sexual harassment or not, the case may be pursued through formal channels provided the evidence of such previous attempt/s are brought before the Standing Committee.
7.5.2. The aggrieved individual shall in writing, register his/her complaint, in strict confidence, either to the Directors or the Chair of the Committee or any member of the Committee. In
all cases, the complaint should describe the specific, offensive act or acts, the time, location and circumstances under which they took place, notification to the accused and names of those connected with the incident, and any other information relevant to the case. The complainant should identify the alleged harasser as well as any witnesses to the act(s) or anyone else to whom the incident might have been mentioned. The complaint must be signed and dated by the offended person. An investigation will be conducted to establish the facts and validity of the case.
7.6. Creating a conducive environment for inquiry
1) The management shall make temporary adjustments to avoid interactions between complainant and accused for related official purposes during the investigation period.
2) Retribution from either party shall be strictly monitored. During the process of the investigation work, evaluations, daily duties, reporting structure and any parallel inquiries initiated shall be strictly monitored to avoid any retaliation from either side.
3) Where an accused is a member of management, and guilt is established, the member shall at least not be allowed to continue serving in a management position.
4) If the complaint is lodged against a member of the standing committee, such a member shall be disqualified from the committee and shall be replaced with another member.
7.7. Evidence: It is acknowledged that gender harassment usually occurs away from the public eye; therefore it may be difficult to produce evidence. It is strongly recommended that individuals report offensive behaviour immediately to someone they trust, even if they do not wish to launch a formal complaint at the time. It is important to note that prompt reporting would strengthen the case of any complaint at any time even if it is informal. The Standing Committee shall, among other things, consider:
a) Detailed accounts of the incident by the complainant and the accused.
b) Witness statements
c) Statements of persons with whom the complainant or accused might have discussed the incident
d) Statements of persons from whom advice may have informally been sought by the complainant and the accused
e) Any other documentary, audio or video records may be submitted. Expert technical advice may be sought to evaluate such submissions.
7.8. Process of Inquiry
i) Upon receiving a formal complaint, the Committee shall ask the complainant to prepare a detailed statement of the incident(s). A statement of allegations will be drawn by the Committee and sent to the accused.
ii) The accused shall be asked to prepare a response to the statement of allegations and submit to the Committee within a specified period.
iii) The statements and other evidence generated or obtained during the inquiry process shall be considered and handled as confidential material.
iv) An officer in the organization could be designated to provide advice and assistance to each party if requested by either of them. Similarly, the complainant and the accused shall have the right to be represented or accompanied by a member of staff committee, a friend or a colleague.
v) The Committee shall organize verbal hearings with the complainant and the accused; separately, jointly or both as it deems fit.
vi) The accused shall be allowed to cross-examine the complainant.
vii) The Committee shall take testimonies of other relevant persons and consider their evidence whenever deemed necessary.
viii) Care should be taken to avoid any retribution against the witnesses by according the necessary protection.
ix) The Committee shall make a decision after carefully reviewing the circumstances and the evidence.
x) If the accused, having been provided fair opportunity to participate in the inquiry and defend himself/herself fails to participate in the inquiry, the Committee will conduct the inquiry ex-parte.
xi) The Committee shall ensure confidentiality throughout the inquiry process.
7.9. Period of Inquiry: The determination of cases under this policy shall whenever possible be completed within three (3) weeks from the date of registration of a complaint.
7.10. Decision of the Committee: The facts determined in the initial investigation and fact-finding exercise, including the response of the accused, will be reviewed by the Committee and after a decision is reached regarding the complaint, the Committee will recommend to the Directors disciplinary action in case the accused is found guilty. The range of punitive measures the Committee may impose and/or recommend range from reprimand letters, demotion, to dismissal from employment or any CACE program. Both the accused and the complainant will be informed in writing of the Committee decision on the matter under inquiry.
7.11. Appeals: The individual who has been punished or a decision has been taken to punish him/her for sexual harassment misconduct as defined under this policy shall have the right of appeal to the Directors or to other authorities with the jurisdiction to hear the matter.
8. Helping a Colleague to Deal with Sexual Harassment
8.1. A colleague approached for help in dealing with sexual harassment shall treat the matter seriously and shall not try to dismiss it lightly or suggest that the complainant is being overly sensitive. One should always offer support, assurance and assistance to a colleague he/she suspects is or observes being sexually harassed but the aggrieved person is or appears afraid or too intimidated to do anything about it.
8.2. Having supportive colleagues and confidence in a system which takes seriously all cases of sexual harassment is crucial toward empowering the aggrieved to find the means of resolving the situation as well as getting over the strong detrimental emotions that accompany sexual harassment.
9. Legal Prosecution
The provisions under this policy does not preclude a complainant from taking further legal action under the Laws of Uganda neither does such action prohibit CACE from taking any disciplinary measure/s that it may deem necessary.
In principle, the private life of individuals working with, associated with CACE is their own concern and shall not be intruded upon by the organization. In the same vein, it shall be an offence for a CACE employee to carry himself/herself in a manner that brings the organization into disrepute, in public or even cause offense to the community in which they live, work, or study. Members of the CACE staff shall therefore be required to set themselves a high standard of personal conduct, whether their activities are connected to official business or not.
Adapted from the African Leadership Centre’s Policy on Sexual Harassment