Human rights activists have called on Government to amend the Employment Act 2006, to make it compulsory for all companies and industries at various levels to have sexual harassment policies.
They argue that this is one of the loopholes which has left many employees at the hands of their employers because they have no laws in place.
The activists note that many laws are outdated in regard to addressing the problem of sexual violence at work places.
The Employment Act 2006 under section 7 clause (4), every employer who employs more than 25 employees is required to have in place measures to prevent sexual harassment occurring at their work place.
Leah Erenyu, the Research Advocacy and Movement Building Manager at Akina Mama wa Afrika, said the law only recognises employers with 25 workers, thus exposing those who work in small institutions and those who employ less people.
This was during a press conference to mark Human Rights Day, organised by Care International Uganda at their offices in Kamwokya, Kampala.
Erenyu said lack of sexual harassment policies at work places exposes many workers to abuse because majority work in small institutions.
“The sexual harassment policies at work places have many gaps. Employees do not have the guarantee that they will keep their jobs when they report such cases and some companies are not interested in the welfare of their employees. They only work to protect the image and name of their organisations,” Erenyu noted.
Employment (Sexual Harassment) Regulations 2012 prescribes that those who contravene the sexual harassment related provisions commit an offence and are liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding six currency points (sh120,000/=) or imprisonment not exceeding three months or both, which Erenyu says is so lenient.
The Programme Director Care International, Delphine Mugisha said Uganda has many laws but is poor at implementation.
She noted that as part of fighting the vice, they have established digital platforms on twitter under the tag #HereMeTooUGTwitter Town Hall, where members will be able to discuss the problem to promote awareness.
She said they have also started national wide community dialogues in communities to sensitise people about GBV.
“The digital platform will discuss the importance of the male engagement in tackling GBV issues and sexual harassment, HR implications for GBV at workplaces and calls for action,” she noted.
Speaking at the panel discussion in commemoration of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence and the international human rights day at Kabira Country Club, the US ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac said there is need for a collective effort to fight gender-based Violence (GBV) to protect women rights.
“Government has a role to ensure that citizens are protected to enjoy their rights fully. This is a collective effort and every government sector has a role to play,” she noted.
She stressed that as the world commemorates 70 years of Universal Declaration for Human Rights, everyone needs to use this moment to remember that these rights are universal.
“These are just a reflection of fundamental rights that apply to each and every individual and each and every individual has a dignity of himself and need to leave free from fear of violence and intimidation. We have to continue working towards achieving that,” she added.
Justice Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza, said the law does not solve the problem of human rights violations, saying activism should be a solution to create more awareness and sensitisation.