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2012 (Vol. 4, Issue: 1)
Article Information:

Sexual Harassment and Sexual Harassment Policy in Jamaica: The Absence of a National Sexual Harassment Policy, and the Way Forward

R. Peters and P.A. Bourne
Corresponding Author:  Racquel Peters 

Key words:  Jamaica, sex, sexuality, sexed culture, sexual harassment, sexual harassment policy,
Vol. 4 , (1): 1-19
Submitted Accepted Published
2010 September, 06 2010 October, 09 2012 February, 20

Within the Caribbean only countries such as Belize, Bahamas and Guyana have legitimized legislation against sexual harassment. Countries such as Jamaica, Barbados and St. Kitts and Nevis have draft bills before parliament. In the Jamaican context, the country in September 1981 signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which came into effect in 1984 which deals with the issue of sexual harassment under Articles 2 (Policy Measures and Legislation) and Article 11 (Employment). The current study is an assessment of sexual harassment, components of sexual harassment and sexual harassment policies in Jamaica, and whether such policy would be effective within the context of the culture. The methodology that was utilized for the study was ethnography. Ethnography focuses on describing the cultural traits of a group and may also be used to explore and describe the relationship among variables. This qualitative methodology was thought to be most suited for the nature of research as it describes and situates the phenomenon of sexual harassment in a cultural context, both the broad Jamaican culture and the specific organizational culture. Six themes emerged from the current study. These are culture and perception of harassment; culture and element of harassment; culture and effectiveness of policy; power and power relations and gendered response to harassment. It was postulated and agreed upon that there is no definite definition for sexual harassment, it is fluid and based solely on one’s perception. One respondent said, “We’ve been unable to define sexual harassment it doesn’t have to be intentional or not. Sexual harassment is pretty much from the person’s perspective”. It was brought out during the study that culture would clearly define what is constituted as sexual harassment. A respondent in an elite interview stated that in a Jamaican context sexual harassment is very difficult to be identified because “these societal attitudes to woman and the woman’s bodies is such that the woman’s body is not really her own she doesn’t have a right to decide what is to be done with it, to it and sexual harassment is an extension of that” There was consensus in the focus group that policies such as those for sexual harassment are not meant to act as deterrents per say but as back up plans, a tool to reach for just in case the harassment occurs; “the rules are not enforced they are just there if something happens I don’t think they can be enforced”. As it relates to the implementation of a policy to battle sexual harassment, there were mixed notions. Most respondents were of the view that having a sexual harassment policy may be somewhat effective. However, one respondent citing the experience he had working with Company Sefah (fictitious name) that had a ‘no-hugging’ rule voiced his lack of confidence in the implementation and effectiveness of any such policy. For Jamaica to move forward and achieve economic growth, it requires a reasonably content and stable workforce coupled with steady output from countless organizations. Issues such as sexual harassment should be deemed high priority and be combated through the use of effective policy, because it has a great ability to disrupt and detract from the stability of the workforce and the level of consistency of the output of organizations.
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  Cite this Reference:
R. Peters and P.A. Bourne, 2012. Sexual Harassment and Sexual Harassment Policy in Jamaica: The Absence of a National Sexual Harassment Policy, and the Way Forward.  Asian Journal of Business Management, 4(1): 1-19.
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ISSN (Online):  2041-8752
ISSN (Print):   2041-8744
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