PERIOD SHAMING AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT WORKPLACES
The National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) expresses its deep concern and condemnation regarding the recent incident at Brown's Cheese, a Kenyan company based in Limuru where female workers were subjected to an appalling act of period shaming and sexual harassment within the workplace.
According to reports, a manager at Brown's Food Company assembled female workers in an attempt to identify the individual responsible for disposing of a used sanitary towel in an incorrect bin. Disturbingly, after failed attempts to obtain a confession, the manager resorted to an utterly degrading act by forcing the women to strip. The Commission reiterates that period shaming and sexual harassment constitute serious violations of human rights and are strictly prohibited by Kenyan laws. Ongoing sexual violence is not only a violation of human rights but it also encourages other forms of gender-based violence.
It is essential for both private and public institutions to establish robust policies that address incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace. As part of our mandate, NGEC facilitates the development of such policies and monitors their implementation to ensure work places are free from discrimination. We welcome the decision of Brown's Cheese Limited to suspend the three managers involved in this incident and issue an apology. The Commission notes that the offending managers have been arrested and charged in court, demonstrating the severity of the matter. NGEC underscores the importance of swift and just legal proceedings to ensure accountability and deter future acts of sexual harassment.
NGEC urges Brown's Food Company to implement firm administrative and policy measures that will prevent such occurrences in the future. These measures should include comprehensive training on gender equality and the prevention of sexual harassment, the establishment of reporting mechanisms, and clear consequences for perpetrators.
The Commission calls upon Brown's Cheese Limited and other organizations in Kenya to prioritize the rights, safety, and well-being of their employees, especially women. We stand ready to provide support and guidance to any organization seeking to create an inclusive and respectful workplace.
The Commission will continue to advocate for human rights, recognize women's equality and encourage discrimination-reducing measures in the employment context.