Local NGO calls on government officials to implement national repository

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By Carlena Knight

President of the Women Against Rape (WAR) activist group, Alexandrina Wong, has called on the relevant officials to implement a national repository for recording cases of domestic violence and sexual harassment.

Wong believes that this new system will help to not only eliminate duplicated figures, but will give persons a proper picture of the exact numbers for the various cases.

“While someone may come to us in the first instance, and we begin to carry out the necessary actions with the case, they may have gone to another place so you will find duplications. One person may have gone three or four different places, and so that is why we definitely need that kind of collaboration. We haven’t reached there as yet for proper documentation, using the same coding system so that we will be able to see that if ‘Ms A’ or ‘Mr. X’ came to me, and then went to Gender Affairs, or somewhere else, it is not duplicated so that when we actually put our report or figures, it is not giving false information,” Wong explained.

Her comments stem from a recent discussion where she sought to raise awareness on a treaty geared towards solidifying the rights of persons in a work place.

According to their statistics, at least 25 documented cases have been made in 2020, while others who came forward to their group did not want to file a report for fear of losing their jobs.

ILO Convention No. 190 or C190 for short is the first international treaty to recognise the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment.

The Convention was adopted in June 2019, by the International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and came into force on 25 June 2021.

Wong explained that this treaty speaks to matters which not only happen in the physical work place, but anywhere that it can be linked back to work.

“Places where they take a rest or a meal break, or use sanitary washing and changes, during a work-related trip, training, or social activity fall under that list. It speaks also to both the formal and the informal economy meaning the ladies who ply their trade at the side of the road, the men who ply their trade at the side of the road,” she said.

Governments that ratify C190 will be required to put in place the necessary laws and policy measures to prevent and address violence and harassment in the world of work.

According to Wong, the challenge for this local government is not the ratification of this treaty, but the implementation of such documentation.

She however mentioned that their group along with the Labour Department is hoping to bring some awareness of this new treaty to the local population through several events in September.

“We are having a workshop for domestic workers and then there is another one for employers so, we are focusing on both the employees and employers to share this initial information so that we can get a better understanding of what the convention speaks to,” she shared.

A street fair is also on the cards for next month.

Already, government has made some headway in this field with the establishment of a Sexual Offence Court. They also announced in June of this year, that officials in the Social Transformation Ministry were working towards establishing legislation on sexual harassment.

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