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In Nigeria, there is a dearth of a precise legislative framework that specifically addresses sexual harassment in the workplace. Several Nigerian legislations recognise the prospect of workplace sexual harassment and how this poses challenges to the well-being, productivity and overall welfare of the recipient of unwarranted sexual attention in the world of work. However, this does not suffice to address the issue, and there is a need for proactive legislative action prohibiting and criminalising workplace sexual harassment. Organisations owe employees a safe workplace and need to put in place pragmatic, practical and confidential reporting systems that serve the invaluable purpose of allowing survivors of sexual harassment in their workplaces to make reports when subjected to sexual harassment in the course of their employment. This Policy Brief by Stand To End Rape Initiative (STER) aims to foster legislative action and demand that Nigeria ratifies and domesticates the International Labour Organization (ILO) Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190), which is a landmark International Legislation that recognises that all persons are entitled to a workplace free from violence and sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is widespread in Nigeria and is grossly underreported. The absence of legislative action in matters of sexual harassment in the workplace is an unacceptable phenomenon that must be addressed expeditiously. Workplace sexual harassment, in all its pervasiveness, is a clear manifestation of discrimination based on sex and gender and has been subject to much debate both at domestic, regional and international levels. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), workplace sexual harassment, which may be physical, verbal, or non-verbal, is always unpleasant to the recipient and is constituted of the following components:

  1. Quid pro quo sexual harassment: refers to situations where favourable work conditions, lucrative work packages and job benefits as a whole are made conditional to the victim/survivor succumbing to sexual advances or engaging in one or more forms of activity of a sexual nature.
  2. Hostile work environment: refers to the sexually harassing conduct that makes the workplace no longer conducive or driving workplace conditions to be intimidating, unbearable or humiliating for the victim/survivor.

In Nigeria, there exists no concise legislation that prohibits workplace sexual harassment. This lacuna poses a challenge to victims/survivors of sexual harassment in the workplace, as they are uncertain about available legal options. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) recognises that everyone has a fundamental right to the dignity of their person. No one should be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. Sexual harassment in the workplace amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment that directly impacts the dignity of the victim/survivor, which causes decreased work productivity, fear of intimidation and the risk of unemployment.

As a result of this, Stand To End Rape Initiative (STER) has compiled a detailed anti-harassment policy from intensive research across multiple workplaces. Find the policy below.

Final Research Brief – Examining the Prevalence, Context, and Impact of Workplace Sexual Harassment in Nigeria

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