Gender Rights Advocate, Felicia Browne has asserted that the recent allegations of sexual harassment of a female politician warrant concern for women and men within the politics.
“Women are said to become targets for unwanted sexual degradation by their opponents and in many cases, these are disregarded by the electorate due to biased gender stereotypes,” Browne said in a statement.
She believes that although sexual harassment laws have not been implemented in many Caribbean societies, it is critically important to enact such legislation that will protect the rights of all citizens.
The Gender Rights Advocate noted that the nature of sexual harassment can take various forms including, but not limited to, physical and verbal abuse.
She asserted that sexual harassment can affect both males and female, although women are at a higher risk of becoming victims.
According to her, notwithstanding, in cases where the perpetrators are in positions of authority or leadership, effective legislation and interventions like resignation or impeachment should be enacted without prejudice to protect the rights of victims and their families – and to eliminate any further forms of victimization and harassment.
Browne said that dealing with sexual harassment in the political environment should be given priority, as both male and women candidates have the right to engage in political discourse without any form of sexism or gender discrimination, or indeed any other threats to their well-being.
She stated that in the case of Mrs. Jeannine Compton and Mr. Ezekiel Joseph, it is important to note that neither candidate has used this opportunity to highlight sexual harassment as a serious form of gender discrimination in Saint Lucia.
Compton has publicly accused Joseph of sexual assault when he was Minister of Agriculture, an accusation Joseph has denied.