A few days after coming out and declaring her lesbian stand, Cynthia, 24, became a target for threats, constant ridicule and unwarranted jokes in her workplace and she sunk into near depression, as such, her productivity was compromised due to the continued taunting by some of her workmates. The nearest help that she could access was a counselor. Her partner, who happens to be within the same workspace, was also not spared from the unwelcomed comments by some male colleagues, who occasionally subjected her to the agony of inappropriate physical contact which adds up to sexual assault. Once in a while, they got teased and would also be asked for sexual favors, making the workplace a humiliating and hostile environment.
Cynthia is not alone. A number of employees are subjects of gender-based violence including sexual harassment that is meted out regularly. In general, gender-based violence is a description of abuse of gender status for purposes of manipulation, or for selfish gains, and that it can result to physical, psychological, or sexual harm. The inclusion in this consists:
Sexual violence and harassment such as groping.
Psychological/ emotional violence, such as intimidation.
Cyber-bullying in the case of online platforms.
Financial and structural abuse.
Blackmail for monetary gain or for specific favors, including sexual favors.
As society continues to battle with the traditional cisgender violence, testimonies have recently streamed in especially on social media with the #MeToo tag. The LGBTQ community continues to be a major victim of the heinous acts, being affected directly and indirectly, with the main foundation for this abuse of human rights being the stigma that still surrounds the entirety of the community. However, many times such instances go unreported because of various reasons, such as employers trying to maintain their brand images, reputations, and so on. This only covers up for the growth of the vice without mitigating for its ending.
An overview of statistics shows that women are at a 20% higher risk than men in facing gender-based violence and as such, translates to a much higher figure for bisexual women. People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are thrice more likely to face gender-based violence than heterosexuals. The dangers of this is that the effects may go all through an individual’s life as physical, psychological (depression, anxiety) flaws, and sometimes may lead to drug and substance abuse, isolation, and worst case scenarios recorded suicide.
The #16DaysofActivism, started on the 25th November, is a campaign to create awareness of the existence of this vice, and to involve stakeholders and individuals in the war against gender-based violence, specific to the workplace. This violence, under The Human Rights Watch, is described as ‘Abuse of Human Rights’, and even though no international treaty or document provides for this by now, we need an overhaul in attitude and values in order to be able to win the fight. Be willing to speak out, and be willing to be involved in stamping out violence at the work-place.