Friday, 21 October 2016 13:36

The Position of the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs) on Sexual Harassment

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The Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs) is aware of the disturbing video being circulated on Social Media which shows a young female stating that she is being sexually harassed by three young men while walking in Port of Spain after she was finished exercising.

The Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs) strongly condemns these acts of harassment and is reminding the public that every woman and girl should be allowed to walk the streets freely without the fear of being abused by others. No part of our culture and laws adheres to women being abused. Our laws provide redress as follows:

Harassment is unlawful under the Offences Against the Person Act, Chap. 11:08. Under Section 30A of the Act, “harassment” of a person includes alarming the person or causing the person distress by engaging in a course of conduct in the circumstances outlined at Section 30A. This conduct includes, for example, making contact with the person, whether by gesture, directly, verbally by telephone, computer, post or in any other way, or giving offensive material to the person. In order for the conduct to constitute harassment, it must be carried out on at least two occasions. The penalty for this offence is a fine of Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000) and six months imprisonment upon summary conviction. If the conduct causes the victim to fear that violence will be used, then the penalties are higher.

Sexual harassment may, in certain circumstances, also be considered indecent assault which is an offence under the Sexual Offences Act, Chap. 11:28. Section 15 of that Act defines “indecent assault” as an assault accompanied by words or circumstances indicating an indecent intention. A person who indecently assaults another is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for five years for a first offence and to imprisonment for ten years for a subsequent offence.

Although not expressly stated, sexual harassment may also be considered a form of sex discrimination under the Equal Opportunity Act, Chap. 22:03.

The Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs) encourages the public to recognize that women and girls should be treated with dignity and respect. To all women and girls who may feel threatened or who are being sexually harassed, or any bystander who may notice someone experiencing difficulty regarding this conduct, please contact the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service by dialing toll free - 999.

Some tips to deal with sexual harassment:

Keep your cell phone handy. Call the police or someone trustworthy.

If someone in a car stops to ask a question, stay far enough away that you can escape.

Realize that using headphones can lessen your awareness.

It is sometimes safer to use the “buddy system”; ask a friend or two to accompany you to take a walk or go to the mall.

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