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Senators blast culture of sexual harassment

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Senators blast culture of sexual harassment

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GOVERNMENT SENATOR Irene Sandiford-Garner yesterday identified herself as a victim of sexual harassment, telling the Senate: “I have been sexually harassed; I have even been, as they say, assaulted.”

She was among a number of senators who yesterday not only welcomed the Employment Sexual Harassment Prevention Bill 2017, but also slammed the “culture” of sexual harassment in Barbados, with one even calling it a “disease”.

Sandiford-Garner, the parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, related personal incidents of sexual harassment and inappropriate actions by male bosses and work colleagues. 

She stated that many women who suffered the indignity of the sexual advances did so in silence. Their vulnerability, she stressed, was compounded “by the fact that they are generally the sole breadwinner in the family, making them fair game for sexual predators”.

Another Government senator, Verla De Peiza, declared that sexual harassment was so prevalent in Barbados that it was tantamount to a “disease”.

The attorney at law said what presently existed in the workplace, and the conditions under which people worked, “where insinuation and innuendo is the order of the day, constitutes our culture, means that we have a culture of sexual harassment.

“But I wonder if culture is really the word we need to use. Is it cultural or is it endemic, because it is more like a disease in Barbados,” she said.

Minister of Labour, Senator Dr Esther Byer said while the legislation was not perfect, they could not “could not wait any longer”.

“Thirteen years in the making was more than enough. There are people out there who needed this legislation, who need this protection, who need to know that they do not have to suffer in silence . . . . (GC/SC/KC)

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