Understanding sexual harassment in the work-place

Harassment at the workplace takes different forms and most of the time is intentional and meant to make the victim powerless and lower their dignity.

Understanding sexual harassment in the work-place
  • PublishedJune 6, 2023

Discrimination, bullying, frequent physical attacks on employees in public, abuse of power, social isolation, online or the many forms and types of harassment at the workplace. We explain how…

Under the Sexual Offences Act, a person may be found guilty of sexual harassment if any person, who being in a position of authority, or holding a public office persistently makes any sexual advances or requests that he or she knows, or has reasonable grounds to know, are unwelcome.

Sexual harassment interferes with work and often creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

The Constitution of Kenya, under Article 27 protects every Kenyan against all forms of discrimination and violations of their rights.

Section 6(2) of the law says: “An employer who employs twenty or more employees shall, after consulting with the employees or their representatives, develop a policy on sexual harassment.”

The policy must include an explicit statement to the effect that every employee is entitled to employment that is free of sexual harassment. It is, however, good practice for all employers to have the policy regardless of how many employees an employer has.

Effects of sexual harassment on an Sexual harassment may cause the victim

Fear and guilt:

Sexually violated victims develop a fear of going to work and/or even attending meetings. This is because the environment is a daily reminder of how their rights have been violated.

Feeling dominated:

The perpetrator always enjoys domination and this subdues the victim. Eventually, the victim becomes doutest if friends, family, or the relevant authorities would believe their story if they reported. This gives the perpetrator more opportunity to continue with their actions as they know the victim is unlikely to report them.

Lack of concentration:

The productivity of sexually harassed victims becomes less efficient. In many cases, the victim is disoriented over the haines surrounding the vice. They may not know whom to repost to and may be asking themselves many questions such as why them, and what will happen to their career.

Anxiety and depression:

Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace will most likely make the victim uneasy all the time. This may lead to depression and other anxiety disorder. which may persist even after the harassment stops if it was not dealt with properly in the first place.


Sexually harassed victims develop increased stress levels that in turn lead to on and off headaches.

Eating and sleep disturbances:

The thought of having fallen victim or allowing such conduct to happen to them is often disturbing.

This can lead to loss of appetite and lack of sleep and these may lead to other physical illnesses.

Solutions to sexual harassment at work

Equality at work:

Equality at the workplace is a fundamental principle that helps employees understand that they have equal opportunities and chances to succeed. When this is clearly spelt out, it minimizes the likelihood of employees, particularly those in supervisory roles, making their own rules and conditions that may include seeking sexual favours.

Implementation of policies:

Sexual harassment victims should be able to actualize policies and internal complaint mechanisms that take sexual harassment claims seriously and also ensure that they are investigated without retribution, retaliation, or derailing workers’ careers.

Empowerment in the workplace: Every organisation needs to constantly communicate anti-harassment policies and ensure they are clearly understood by all staff members. This can be done by having policy printouts displayed prominently in every office; training employees on various types of sexual harassment; educating the staff on how to combat such misconduct, and creating reporting mechanisms that allow workers to raise concerns without fear of retaliation.

Transparent/authentic leadership: Leaders of the organisation should show their leadership skills by leading from the front and ensuring zero tolerance for sexual harassment. This can be achieved when they back up their words with actions and clear measures of accountability and transparency. They should set a free tone for employees to address matters of sexual harassment without any bias.

Create a company culture: Building and having an organizational culture is important to both employers and employees. Company culture creates a conducive work enviament that develops into better relationships between employers, employees, and co-workers, and this often leads to increased productivity.

Company executives have a role to cultivate and maintain a culture where professionalism is maintained including off-site and out-of-work meetings. Such culture restricts the room for intimidating actions such as workplace harassment

Written By
Diana Rachel