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10 Mar, 2012

Anti-Sexual Harrassment in the Workplace Manual Launched in Indonesia


JAKARTA (ILO / APINDO), 8 March 2012: The International Labour Organization and the Indonesian Employers’ Association (Apindo) marked 8 March, International Women’s Day, by launching a guideline manual to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

The guideline manual to prevent and manage sexual harassment at the enterprise level was jointly launched at FX Lifestyle X’nter by Sofyan Wanandi, Chair of Apindo and Deputy Director of the ILO in Indonesia, Michiko Miyamoto. A subsequent panel discussion on the subject was broadcast live over radio across 10 Indonesian cities.

Editor’s Comment

Indonesia is the only country in Asia where such an initiative was taken, and should go a long way towards putting this long-standing and widespread but extensively covered-up problem on the map of issues facing at the global travel & tourism industry.

Travel Impact Newswire is proud to be at the forefront of efforts to help alleviate this scourge.

According to the ILO, “Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination and is recognized as a violation of human rights. Sexual harassment at work can happen to any worker at any workplace— offices, factories, plantations and farms, small and large enterprises.

“Sexual harassment also affects employees, employers and the society as a whole. Research has clearly shown that workplaces in which harassment is permitted tend to have sharply falling productivity. Sexual harassment leads to increased absenteeism, high turnover of staff and loss of valuable employees and to a poor public image of the company.”

Addressing the event, Mr Sofyan Wanandi said that harassment at the workplace is quite difficult to handle when no grievance procedure at the enterprise related to harassment has been established and understood by workers and employers and when the victims are hesitant to discuss their case.

“Therefore, the guideline plays an important role in encouraging prevention and common action to avoid discriminative treatment at the enterprise and workplace levels. The guideline has also shown the seriousness of Apindo in tackling this issue by providing practical prevention and resolution to its members at the enterprise level,” he said.

The launch was followed by an interactive discussion titled “Preventing Sexual Harassment at the Workplace”, as part of the effort to disseminate this guideline widely to the enterprises as well as to the public at large. The interactive discussion featured Nina Tursinah, Chair of Apindo, Irianto Simbolon, Director of Working Norms, Welfare and Discrimination Analyst of the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration and Doddy Irawan, Manager of Chevron.

The discussion was conducted in collaboration with SmartFM Network, a leading radio station, and aired live in 10 cities: Jakarta, Surabaya, Semarang, Medan, Palembang, Makassar, Manado, Balikpapan, Banjarmasin and Pekan Baru.

“The ILO greatly welcomes this initiative of Apindo to prevent and manage the sexual harassment at the workplace. As the main voice of employers on labour and social issues, Apindo plays an important role in creating a safe working environment for both workers and employers to ensure productivity, competitiveness and peacefulness of the business,” said Peter van Rooij, Country Director of the ILO in Indonesia.

The two principal types of sexual harassment in the workplace are ‘quid pro quo’ harassment and the creation of a hostile working environment. Quid pro quo harassment refers to a demand by a person in authority, such as supervisor, for sexual favours in order to obtain or maintain certain job benefits—a wage increase, promotion, training opportunity, a transfer or a job. It forces workers to choose between giving in to sexual demands or losing employment benefits. This type of sexual harassment is also referred to as ‘sexual blackmail.

The second type of sexual harassment can poison the work environment and impact on the job performance of workers. In more recent years, however, new evidence has been emerging on the impact and harm caused by non-physical violence, often referred to as psychological violence/ harassment, which includes bullying, mobbing, coercion, verbal abuse and sexual harassment.

The Indonesian news agency, Antara, quoted the ILO’s Michiko Miyamoto as saying, “Women at work are at high risk of being sexually harassed by their employers or colleagues, but they feel ashamed and are afraid to report the cases.”

She said the ILO has encouraged the Indonesian Government to ratify regulations at the workplace as per the ILO Conventions in order to strengthen to legal regulations for gender equality in employment. “If there was stronger legal protection for employees, especially women, they would not feel ashamed or afraid to take the cases to court,” she added.

Miyamoto said that the `shame culture` was a dangerous barrier for female employees in Indonesia and came in the way of them standing up for their equal rights. “We should also change people`s opinions about the subject being taboo, and that reporting sexual harassment is not a shameful thing to do,” she said. “We also should change the opinion about what is acceptable or unacceptable, what is polite or impolite.”