Having spent hours in a certain local court, in Lusaka, taking heed to cases litigated, I was awakened to various issues affecting our society today.  One of the mammoth issues I found was sexual harassment. Seemingly, many of our people in the communities do not know what this cancer is.

My experience at a local court compelled me to bring the light in the dark room where sexual harassment is committed. The dark room referred to can be one’s mind or a church, a school, workplace, street corner, market, business, politics and a home among other places. On the other hand, light represents the knowledge about the sexual harassment. When light appears, darkness disappears…Even so does knowledge make ignorance evaporate. 

I have found sexual harassment not only to be common in various booths of our society but extremely hideous. It puts unity and peace of families and communities in jeopardy thereby disturbing development and progress of a country. Sexual harassment is capable of paralysing an individual from participating effectively in development activities of the family, community and the nation at large. Thus, it is a matter worthy addressing.

 From my observation, many members of our families and communities are unaware about sexual harassment.  Some consider it to be a way of life. “The world is a mirror of confusion when knowledge is limited.” To every reader of this article, I ask of you one thing. That is; read to the end. You will be empowered! You will be able to protect yourself, your family and your community from sexual harassers or predators. 

Sexual harassment is a crime easy to commit. Howbeit this is the case; the offence is highly punishable. But what is sexual harassment? This is a compound word made up of two distinct terms namely harassment and sexual. To harass is to subject a person to hostility or make annoying; hurtful comments or actions persistently to someone. Therefore, we can define sexual harassment as any unwelcome, annoying or unwanted sexual comments, gestures, jokes, and looks behaviors that express or imply demands for sex.

This brings us to the nitty-gritty of the matter. Our communities are full of sexual related offenses. These crimes start simple and small but end up complex and big issues. They start from simple actions such as sexual gestures and repeated sexual jokes. Other actions may include inappropriate touching, cat-calling, unwelcome messages, or emails, brushing up against somebody, sexual comment about somebody’s body, fondling somebody inappropriately, distributing or displaying explicit sexual drawings or pictures and unwanted questions about one’s sex life. Unfortunately, “All big things start small.” The enlisted are the actions that express sexual harassment.  

MUPETA JASON Author of: The Highway to Academic Excellence , The Woman, Born to be Different & Mental Slavery

More often than not, we see or experience these acts in our homes, churches, schools, workplaces, and streets. But we ignore these expressions. We say it is a simple joke or he or she was just playing. Sometimes, we don’t speak because we are afraid of the stigmatisation, or/and violent retaliation from perpetrators. We say he or she is my boss, I will lose my job. We say he or she is my uncle, dad, cousin or aunty; they will chase me from their home.  In effect, we silently promote the crime of sexual harassment. 

Who is mostly affected by sexual harassment?  Women and girls count to be the majority on the victim’s roll. But this doesn’t mean men are not harassed. They are but not as much as women. Perpetrators threaten and instill so much fear such that a victim ends up not reporting. This is common in male dominated homes, schools or workplaces. Evidence from various sources reveals that Zambia, like many other countries has high cases of sexual harassment. 

“When it comes to sexual harassment, forgetting is difficult. Remembering is worse.” Sexual harassment has huge economic or financial, social, and psychological/emotional consequences on a victim and the perpetrator especially when convicted. Therefore, it falls upon every person or leader to intercept this cancer from eating away our families, communities and nation at large. Sexual harassment is a serious criminal offense in Zambia. The Anti-Gender Act of 2011outlaws sexual harassment. Any person convicted of it is liable to imprisonment for a term of “not less than 3 years but not exceeding 15 years.”  Stop sexual harassment especially on women and girls. A woman is beautiful in every way. She deserves protection from all forms of Gender Based Violence. As a mother, she shines, her power and glory flourishes. Happy Women’s Day!


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