Guidelines for the handling of sexual harassment in the South African Police Service

Retief, Rita Theresa (2000-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Sexual harassment is an old problem for the women who are its victims but is relatively new as a social issue. Studies carried out in South Africa and internationally indicate that sexual harassment is a problem in virtually every organisation and that a substantial proportion of working women are the recipients of unwanted sexual attention in the workplace. A number of misconceptions, myths as well as stereotyping regarding sexual harassment in the workplace have added to the frustration female employees experience in trying to have their sexual harassment complaints recognised. Like many organisations, the South African Police Service (SAPS) knows the problem exists, but is unaware of its full extent or the destructive effects it has on employees and the workplace. As sexual harassment usually occurs in private, the women in the SAPS who are being harassed usually do not know how to react or how to handle the harassing situation and conseq uently suffer in silence. Most female employees despair of having the traditionally male dominated management component in the SAPS understand how much sexual harassment humiliates and frustrates them. They also despair of having the support of managers in addressing the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace. Even though the SAPS has a sexual harassment policy, the problem of sexual harassment continues to occur in the workplace. The only protection for the organisation and its employees, is prevention, or lacking that, immediate and appropriate action, following notification of a sexual harassment complaint. Prevention is only likely when the sexual harassment policy has been well communicated to all parties and enforced consistently and fairly. Inher capacity as a social worker in the SAPS, the researcher became aware that even though managers and employees are aware that this type of misconduct occurs, they avoid addressing this sensitive issue because of a lack of proper guidelines. Therefore, the aim of the study was to present guidelines for the composition of a training programme for the implementation of the existing policy document regarding the handling of sexual harassment in the SAPS. The purpose was to ensure that intervention and prevention of sexual harassment in the SAPS will be handled more effectively. Existing literature on the subject of sexual harassment was studied and presented in a theoretical framework. The history, legislation and dimensions of sexual harassment in the workplace i.e. internationally as well as in South Africa and the SAPS, were discussed. The development and consequences of sexual harassment for the organisation and all employees concerned were emphasized. Preventative measures and implementation guidelines for addressing sexual harassment in the SAPS, were explored. The prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace and the subsequent experience(s) of and effects on female employees regarding such harassment (in the SAPS) is brought into focus. Exploratory - descriptive research was done with the aid of a questionnaire as an instrument for data-collection, at police stations in one area of the West Metropole in the SAPS (Western Cape) where social workers are rendering services. The opinions and attitudes of female employees with regard to their experience(s) or knowledge of the occurrence and the handling of sexual harassment in the SAPS, were determined. Information obtained from the questionnaire is presented in six categories, namely : demographic characteristics of respondents, behaviour of male employees toward female employees, the person(s) responsible for the sexual harassment incident, reactions to the sexual harassment incident, effects of sexual harassment experience(s) on women as well as on the workplace and the addressing of sexual harassment in the workplace. Conclusions and recommendations are made regarding the opinions, knowledge and sexual harassment experiences of female employees in the SAPS as well as how sexual harassment should be handled by various parties such as managers and social workers employed by the SAPS. The implementation of a sexual harassment training programme can be of great value to the South African Police Service and all its employees, provided the staff at management level, professional personnel (social workers, psychologists and personnel practitioners) and all other levels of employees commit themselves to working together on addressing and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. Regular evaluations should be done by the social worker after the sexual harassment training programme has been implemented, in order to determine the effectiveness of the prevention training programme for addressing sexual harassment in the SAPS. Social workers in the SAPS should endeavour to clarify the extent of the problem of sexual harassment and should bring the seriousness of the problem to the attention of managers and all other employees. Social workers therefore have a crucial role in assisting with the implementation of the organisation's sexual harassment policy and in doing further research regarding sexual harassment in the workplace.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Seksuele teistering is 'n ou probleem vir die vroue wie die slagoffers daarvan is, maar dit is relatief nuut as 'n sosiale kwessie. Studies wat in Suid-Afrika en internasionaal uitgevoer is, dui aan dat seksuele teistering 'n probleem in feitlik elke organisasie is en dat 'n aansienlike getal werkende vroue ongewensde seksuele aandag in die werkplek ervaar. Die bestaande wanopvattings, mites sowel as stereotiperings wat in die werkplek voorkom rakende seksuele teistering, dra by tot die frustrasie wat vroulike werknemers ervaar in hul poging om die bestuur hul klagtes oor seksuele teistering te laat insien. Soos baie organisasies, is die Suid-Afrikaanse Polisiediens (SAPD) bewus dat die probleem voorkom, maar onbewus van die omvang daarvan of die skadelike gevolge wat dit inhou vir werknemers en die werkplek. Aangesien seksuele teistering gewoonlik plaasvind in privaatheid, weet die vroue in die SAPD wat geteister word gewoonlik nie hoe om te reageer of hoe om die teisterende situasie te hanteer nie. Gevolglik ly hulle in stilte. Baie vroulike werknemers is in vertwyfeling oor hoe om die bestuurskomponent in die SAPD, wie tradisioneel oorheers word deur mans, te laat besef hoe vernederend en frustrerend seksuele teistering vir hulle is. Hulle is ook desperaat om die ondersteuning van bestuurders te kry ten einde die probleem van seksuele teistering in die werkplek aan te spreek. Alhoewel die SAPD oor 'n beleidsdokument vir seksuele teistering beskik, kom die probleem van seksuele teistering steeds voor in die werkplek. Die enigste beskerming vir die organisasie en die werknemers, is voorkoming of indien dit ontbreek, onmiddellike en gepaste optrede nadat 'n klagte van seksuele teistering aangemeld word. Voorkoming kan slegs geskied indien die beleid ten opsigte van seksuele teistering, goed bekend gemaak word aan alle partye en dit konsekwent en regverdig toegepas word. Die navorser het in haar kapasiteit as maatskaplike werker in die SAPD bevind dat alhoewel bestuurders en werknemers bewus is dat hierdie tipe misdryf voorkom, hulle die hantering van die sensitiewe probleem ontwyk as gevolg van 'n gebrek aan behoorlike riglyne. Die doel van die studie was gevolglik om riglyne daar te stel vir die samestelling van 'n opleidingsprogram vir die implementering van die bestaande beleidsdokument vir die hantering van seksuele teistering in die SAPD. Die doel was om te verseker dat intervensie en voorkoming van seksuele teistering meer effektief hanteer sal word in die SAPD. Bestaande literatuur ten opsigte van die onderwerp van seksuele teistering is bestudeer en aangebied in 'n teoretiese raamwerk. Die geskiedenis, wetgewing en omvang van seksuele teistering op internasionale vlak, sowel as in Suid-Afrika en die SAPD is bespreek. Die ontwikkeling en gevolge van seksuele teistering vir die organisasie en al die betrokke werknemers is beklemtoon. Voorkomingsmaatreëls en riglyne vir die implimentering van die bestaande beleidsdokument oor seksuele teistering in die SAPD is verken. Die voorkoms van seksuele teistering in die werkplek en die gevolglike ervaring(s) en effek daarvan op vroulike werknemers in die SAPD is in fokus gebring. 'n Verkennende-beskrywende studie is gedoen met behulp van 'n vraelys, as instrument vir data-versameling, by polisiestasies in een area van die Wes-Metropool in die SAPD (Wes- Kaap) waar maatskaplike werkers dienste lewer. Die opinies en houdings van vroulike werknemers met betrekking tot hul ervaring(s) of kennis is bepaal ten opsigte van die verskynsel en die hantering van seksuele teistering in die SAPD. Inligting verkry vanaf die vraelys, is aangebied in ses kategorieë naamlik: demografiese kenmerke van respondente, gedrag van manlike werknemers teenoor vroulike werknemers, die persoon verantwoordelik vir die seksuele teisterende insident, reaksies ten opsigte van die seksuele teisterende insident, effekte wat die seksuele teistering ervaring(s) vir die vroue en die werkplek inhou asook die aanspreek van seksuele teistering in die werkplek. Gevolgtrekkings en aanbevelings is gemaak rakende die opinies, kenmerke en ervarings van vroulike werknemers ten opsigte van seksuele teistering in die SAPD, asook ten opsigte van die hantering van seksuele teistering deur die verskeie partye soos, byvoorbeeld bestuurders en maatskaplike werkers in diens van die SAPD. Die implementering van 'n opleidingsprogram ten opsigte van seksuele teistering kan waardevol wees vir die Suid- Afrikaanse Polisiediens en al die werknemers mits die bestuurders, professionele personeel (maatskaplike werkers, sielkundiges en menslike hulpbronbestuur) hulself verbind tot samewerking ten opsigte van die aanspreek en voorkoming van seksuele teistering in die werkplek. Gereelde evaluerings deur die maatskaplike werker moet gedoen word na die implementering van die seksuele teistering opleidingsprogram, ten einde die effektiwiteit van die voorkomingsprogram te bepaal vir die aanspreek van seksuele teistering in die SAPD. Maatskaplike werkers in die SAPD moet hulself beywer om duidelikheid te verkry oor die omvang van die probleem van seksuele teistering en moet die erns van die probleem onder die aandag bring van bestuurders en alle ander werknemers. Maatskaplike werkers het dus 'n beslissende ondersteuningsrol om te vervul ten opsigte van die implimentering van die organisasie se beleid vir seksuele teistering, asook om verdere navorsing ten opsigte van seksuele teistering in die werkplek aan te moedig.

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