Close this search box.

Youth-led initiative raging war on workplace harassment

According to 2022 data from the International Labour Organization (ILO), one in five workers experiences harassment and intimidation at work.

The Hear Us Initiative Organization, a youth-led organization dedicated to combating gender-based harassment, has launched a campaign called “Do not Touch” to fight workplace harassment.

This organization was founded by Irene Rukinga, he stated that he established it after witnessing widespread harassment, particularly against young women, a topic often left unspoken.

He said, “When it happened to my sister, I was filled with sadness and felt that such things should stop. Even though we live in a small country, we cannot hide from this, so we chose to launch a campaign to educate people about this behaviour and how it undermines and oppresses other people, and it should stop. This concerns everyone, especially men.”

Irene Rukinga says sexual harassment in the workplace takes combined efforts to eradicate

This organization has committed itself to eradicate all forms of workplace harassment and has launched the campaign “Do not touch” where young people are called to contribute their part.

Last year, the International Labour Organization indicated that among the forms of harassment encountered, those based on physicality, gender, and power dynamics are prevalent.

Even though many organizations, particularly those integrating technology, have a high number of young employees, data show a high prevalence of unemployment among them, with a rate exceeding 17%.

In a conversation with us, Rukinga indicated that there are things the youth need to know about workplace harassment to counteract it and thoroughly eliminate it, especially since a lot of the unspoken actions are where it occurs.

He said, “There is language that people might use, thinking it’s normal, but it can hamper a person at work. There might be comments about one’s body that are meant to oppress someone. Sometimes a person might say, ‘this person is shaped like wood, or look at her cleavage’, you have to realize this is a form of psychological torment.”

The organization aims at creating awareness on the sexual harassment issue through the Don’t touch campaign

He mentioned other behaviors that constitute harassment, including physical actions which are often perpetrated on young people where you find an employer or co-worker touching a colleague inappropriately on their intimate parts, or elsewhere, which becomes a habit while the victim has never given consentl.

Rukinga pointed out that these actions have a significant impact on the victim, which often results in severe trauma, but it usually starts with small acts.

Young people are advised that when such things happen, they should start by standing up to the person doing it, showing them that what they have done is not consented and should not continue, speaking out, and distancing oneself from such behavior.

He says, “Young people should know that their lives and rights are being violated and that the humiliation should not be endured. What you do when you are harassed is to report it at various levels so that what happened today does not happen again.”

He also indicated that it is essential to focus on the signs so that monitoring such harassment becomes easier to track.

The Hear Us Initiative Organisation calls on employers to play their part in stopping and eradicating workplace harassment in order to uphold human dignity where they “operate”.

Highschool students are taught the power of saying No

The organization has run different campaigns even in high schools. A young woman from Lycée Notre Dame de Citeaux stated that the campaign has taught her the power of consent.

She said, “The ‘Don’t Touch’ campaign taught me that we must stand up to all forms of harassment. You cannot tolerate everyone touching you simply because they are your friend. I also learned that you can say no whenever you are uncomfortable or suspect that someone has bad intentions. You must say no, whether you are a man or a woman.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Straight out of Twitter