And the reasons for the persistence of the vice include: protection of the abusers by management; it is considered normal; light punishment of offenders; management undermining workers women’s committees and outright malice by HIV infected offenders who want to spread the virus.
The study which was carried out by the Uganda Workers’ Education Association (UWEA) is the third on sexual harassment on flower farms. It indicates that the harassment has gone down but is still very high.
The results of the study were disseminated by UWEA Programme Officer, Flavia Amoding Okot on Thursday at a half-day workshop of stakeholders at the Hotel Triangle in Kampala.
Some of the respondents interviewed blamed the persistence of the vice on women’s poor dress code, drug abuse by some of the abusers, workers thinking that the harassment is normal, low salaries which make the women vulnerable to accept small favours.
The blame was also placed on low education among women workers, lack of training on sexual harassment and poor laws and policies.
Other reasons, according to the findings include insensitive managers who look down on women issues, cultural upbringing of women which muzzles them not to speak out on issues impacting them, and cultures which socialize women to do whatever a man says.
As a result, the study indicates, many of those at the receiving end have contracted sexually transmitted infections through rape and forced sex, marriages have broken and victims have left their jobs, among others.
The most common sexual abuses according to the study include sexual jokes, remarks or behaviour, which, up to now are still regarded normal by many.
The others include rape, sexual aggression, with threats for reprisals, display of sexually explicit and offensive visual pictures, unwelcome demands for sexual favour, unwanted physical contact and advances mainly in greenhouses supervised by men.
But the report also points out that some of the flower farms have tried to adopt some policies against sexual harassment. And that on those farms, once found, a worker can be sacked if reported for the vice.
Training of workers on sexual harassment is also helping, in that some of the victims are now reporting the abuse. But others fear to be stigmatized and isolated by society if they reported that they were being targeted for sexual abuse.