The issue of sexual harassment has gained much prominence in the United States within the past few weeks. Several leading politicians and media celebrities were forced to resign as a result of sexual misconduct allegations made against them. Some of this alleged misconduct took place several decades ago but has only now surfaced, much to the embarrassment and discomfort of those involved.
It is clear that our women are much more empowered and confident in coming forward and letting their stories be told, much to the emabarrassment of those accused. These women should be commended for standing up for their dignity and by so doing sending a clear signal to others that it is not business as usual when women’s rights are being violated by the so-called rich and famous.
It is time for us in Guyana to begin a national conversation on the issue of sexual abuse and harassment which seems to be on the rise. Unlike the United States and other European countries, we seem not to have a culture of ‘name and shame’ regarding sexual harassment by politicians and those in positions of authority. This, however, does not make such unwanted and undesirable behaviour any more acceptable than in the United States and other jurisdictions.
Our women must be respected for who they are, regardless of where or what work they do. The legislation is clear on what constitutes sexual harassment but much more needs to be done to educate our women regarding their rights.