Law proposed to tackle sexual harassment

| 08/08/2012

(SexualHarassmentClaims_0.jpgCNS): Seven years after a local task group revealed that sexual harassment was a pervasive problem in the Cayman Islands the Law Reform Commission has drafted legislation to tackle the issue. Following on from the recently enacted Gender Equality Law, this proposed bill seeks to address the issue formally rather than relying on voluntary codes. “Cultural perceptions, attitudes and justifications for sexual harassment, in the view of the LRC, have contributed to a failure to understand and adequately respond to the problem,” the commission stated last week as it released the proposed law for consultation that will force the community to deal with it.

“Many persons do not know how to report sexual harassment or from whom to seek assistance. As a result, the problem is usually ignored and not enough is done to address it, primarily because there is no comprehensive legislation or policy to respond to the issues,” it added.

Sexual harassment refers to unwanted and unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature engaged in by a person who directs that conduct to another person. The Young Business and Professional Women’s Club (YBPW), which established a taskforce in 2005 to investigate, assess and provide legislative recommendations, to the then government  concluded that sexual harassment is a serious problem in the Cayman Islands that required legislative intervention.

The government passed the Gender Equality Law in 2011 but this law only deals with sexual harassment as it relates to gender discrimination within employment and occupational contexts. The commission said it is restrictive and presents limitations on the sexual harassment issue.

“The LRC is of the view that there is a need for legislation which mandates the formulation of a sexual harassment policy and expands the contexts in which the conduct can occur to include, among other things, educational and other institutions, associations and accommodations.”

Although some organisations and institutions have in place a code or a policy to combat sexual harassment, without a national sexual harassment policy or legislation requiring a policy, there is no obligation on the part of organisations or institutions to put policies in place or enforce them. 

“Sexual harassment has long been recognised internationally and is increasingly viewed as a major international human rights problem,” the LRC said adding that it was necessary it on a holistic statutory basis.

The bill identifies the types of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment; it also requires the formulation of policies in professional relationship settings, provides for a Sexual Harassment Tribunal to deal with complaints and protective remedies for victims or potential victims.

The commission is seeking input from the public on the bill and asks people to submit comments and suggestions by 27 September in writing to the Director of the Law Reform Commission, Ground Floor – dms House, 20 Genesis Close, George Town, Grand Cayman, P.O. Box 907, Grand Cayman KY1-1103 or email cheryl.neblett@gov.ky

Unless marked to the contrary, the LRC will assume that comments received are not confidential, and that respondents consent to our quoting from, or referring to, their comments and attributing their comments to them, and to the release or publication of their submissions. Requests for confidentiality or anonymity will be respected to the extent permitted by the Freedom of Information Law, 2007.

See notes and draft bill below.

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Comments (20)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I hope the Male Lawyers and Managers are reading!!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think what is happenning in the picture is already illegal if the woman had asked him to stop.

  3. Anonymous says:

    My concern with all of this is that it is very subjective and a very easy allegation to make and hard to disprove. A woman can decide AFTER THE EVENT that a flirtation which may have appeared welcome was not and instead she was subjected to sexual harrassment. Innocent people can get thrown in jail easily.  Scary.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Re the pic……whats wrong with a little shoulder massage?

    • Partyman says:

      Do you like living in a cave?

      • Anonymous says:

        Is simltaneoulsy attracting and repulsing a cro-women tactic for power? We all know there a boundaries for bothsexes not to cross,  the real question is who(psychopaths male or female) are unfairly maniplulating those sexual instincts in accpeted sex nuetral scenarios.

  5. Loopy Lou says:

    The ignorant comments on this topic, which some of writers thought were amusing, show how backwards many are in Cayman when it comes to gender respect and how much work needs to be done. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is just another law on the books that will never be fully enforced. It might be enforced selectively depending on who you know.

     

    In theory, I strongly believe that it is a very good thing to bring into law.

     

    In practice in Cayman, it is a waste of time. I am sure that all the "little girls" will sit down, shut up, and agree.

  7. Married Man says:

    The first thought that comes to mind with sexual harassment, is this man in the picture touching a woman inappropriately. But is it possible for a woman that dresses inappropriately and puts herself in the way of a man, to be tempting, and does being a  tempter or seducer the same as being an harasser. Isn't that what harassment is, using some sort of manipulation to get what you want. Too often it is viewed as the man's fault when women should be responsible as well.

  8. disgusted says:

    what a waste of time and money. Pretty girls love a lot of attention

  9. St Peter says:

    I guess my asking for the phone number for this beautiful lady in the photo, is out of the question then?

    • Baldric says:

      You're too late  – from the picture it looks like Dr Syed got there first.

  10. Anonymous says:

    In a place where the actual standing Premier unapologetically addresses females using inappropriately familiar or derogatory language (such as, "Darling", "that Woman", "Sit down little girl"), safe to say we have an uphill battle.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Mac will veto this…he enjoys the harrassement.  "Little girl" and other disparaging comments on Bermuda's leader come to mind.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Wow, it only took 7 years????

  13. Knot S Smart says:

    To make matters clear – using a demeaning tone to call a lady the following names will all be excluded from the law on sexual harassment.

    Terms such as:

    'Sweetie' , 'Sweetheart', and 'Little Girl' will from her on in,be considered the proper way to address a young lady…

  14. Anonymous says:

    The problem with the Cayman Islands has never been a lack of laws, but rather of a lack of standard enforcement.  The other problem is the rampant discriminatory enforcement that occurs – for example, how often is a blind eye turned when So and So who is a cousin of So and So or knows So and So has just "borrowed" $100,000 (think Turtle Farm) and nothing happens…but find a dog on the street and save it and you're being charged on 10 different counts…