Nairobi. September 4, 2013. Sexual harassment on flower farms in Uganda has persisted despite a campaign to root it out since 2005, a new study reveals. One of the main reasons is that abusers are protected by insensitive managers who look down on women issues and give offenders a very light punishment. Also women workers committees are also often undermined by the management.
The study, the third of its kind, was carried out by the Uganda Workers. Education Association (UWEA). It indicates that the harassment has gone down but is still very high. Some stakeholders in the flower sector blame the persistence of the vice on the poor way women dress, drug abuse, low salaries which make women vulnerable to accept small favours, poor education, lack of training on sexual harassment and poor laws and policies. Another factor is the cultural upbringing of Ugandan women, which muzzles them not to speak out on these issues and a culture which socializes women to do whatever a man says. Many men also consider sexual harassment as normal.
As a result, the study indicates, many victims have contracted sexually transmitted infections through rape and forced sex, marriages have been broken and victims have left their jobs. Other abuses according to the study are sexual jokes, remarks or behaviour, sexual aggression with threats of reprisals, display of sexually explicit and offensive pictures, unwanted physical contact and advances in greenhouses supervised by men.
Some flower farms in Uganda have tried to stem sexual harassment by immediately sacking workers that commit the offence. They also train workers on the abuse, so that people report it. But many Ugandans fear to be stigmatized and isolated by society if people find out they were the target of sexual abuse.