A growing body of evidence shows that 1 in 3 women worldwide experienced some types of Gender based Violence thru ought their family, social and work life.
What is gender-based violence and what makes it different from other type of violence? Gender-based violence is identified as violence that is directed against an individual or a group of individuals on the basis of their gender or sex. It is stemmed from gendered social injustice and inequality, deeply rooted in discriminatory cultural beliefs and perceived powerlessness of a marginal group: in general women and girls.
Some gender-based violence contributing factors include:
- cultural factors such as gender stereotypes and prejudice, normative expectations of femininity and masculinity or family-based gender roles, and a general acceptance of violence as part of the socio-cultural contract when gender stereotypes are not adhered;
- socio-economic factors such as limited access to education and training, lack of economic resources, resources scarcity and poverty; and
- socio-political factors such as lack of representation of women in politics and leadership.
Gender based violence can take on multiple forms from its most common form, physical violence inflicted by an intimate partner, to bullying in online space. Although there was no rigid classification, gender-based violence could be grouped in 6 (six) core types:
- physical violence;
- verbal violence;
- psychological violence;
- harassment, sexual harassment and sexual violence;
- socio-economic violence; and
- domestic violence.
In many industries, especially low-wage sectors, harassment and other forms of gender-based violence are ingrained in the workplace. Masculine culture and norms ingrain in many industries, even in feminine industry such as garment, normalized violence over time. As such, mistreatment and violence are considered part of the job instead of a violation of worker and human rights. In Indonesia, girls and women workers working in farm and factory, for instance, frequently face unwanted sexual advances, harassment, bullying, stalking and intimidation, physical abuse, and verbal abuse from their work colleagues, supervisors or managers. Women retail workers often experience rude gesture, harassment, verbal abuse and threat from the customers. Gender based violence is so prevalent or perceived as normal, even office workers with high educational background could not escape gendered harassment, intimidation and discrimination at work.
Understanding the pervasiveness of gender-based violence committed in the world of work is
tremendously difficult, because only a small percentage of survivors report the abuse. Many survivors of workplace violence do not come forward because they do not think they would be believed; fear they will lose their jobs or otherwise face retaliation and stigma for speaking out. Complaint rates may be even lower in certain industries due to informal work arrangement, unclear and weak management structure and precarious jobs. Language barriers also likely influence underreported violence incidents.
Further, in a highly gendered society country such as Indonesia, all spectrum of gender-based violence has yet acknowledged by State Law and Regulations. Gender based bullying and harassment, for instance, are not stipulated in the Criminal Code. Adding to that, the perception of lack of awareness of law enforcement on the issue and their unconscious bias, also a complex judicial system deters survivors of violence from reporting such case to the authority. What is more, the stigma plastered by the society on survivors of gender-based violence as the other half of the responsible parties.
Ignoring violence against women and girls in the workplace will negatively impacting workers, companies and businesses. Studies suggest that gender-based violence taking a toll on workers physical and mental health, and also company productivity overall. It likely increases OSH related and legal expenses. It creates high turnover of skilled or trained workers. Moreover, it is harmful to the company image and reputation.
Although tolerating gender-based violence at the workplace is perilous, many workplaces have yet had adequate preventive or redressal strategy to tackle gender-based violence. Even when some kind of strategy exist, it might not be inclusively established (lack of representation of women), and workers and managers are not aware of the strategy, or all the same of the issue itself. Perhaps, the lack of scientific proved strategies and practical guidelines on preventing gender-based violence has an effect on scarcity of such strategy.
For workplaces that have developed a prevention of gender-based violence strategy, it is generally consists of two means: providing workers with a safe place to work and plan to manage disruption. However, this form of strategy undermines the fact that gender-based violence-based violence are stemmed from a bigger pool of issues such as toxic masculine corporate cultures, discriminatory cultural beliefs and gendered social norms. Also, it does not holistically capture a complete picture of the issue: spectrum of violence manifestation, and structured redressal system that offer survivor some kind of remedies.
As workplace gender-based violence fundamentally rooted from biased cultural beliefs and perceived uneven power relations that are infused in the organization culture and norms, a sound presentation strategy should include ways and means to alter toxic gendered organizational culture by firstly acknowledging and defining the problem of workplace violence. This will lead an organization to register the manifestation of gender-based violence in the workplace which is then funnelled to the risk assessment and analysis process.
Another key component of a sound strategy may perhaps an inclusively established zero-tolerance policy, signed and endorsed by the Top Management of the organization. A policy does not include specific processes or require specific and predetermined consequences, but simply stating the organizational motive and intention to denounce violence at work, that any types of gender-based violence at work are not acceptable.
A consistent enforcement of the policy is as important as establishing the policy itself. Workers would look to management to see whether a policy is integral to the organization, whether it is a consistently implemented set of rules, or whether it is only just another piece of paper. Thus, it is essential to translate the policy into reliable procedures thatset out risk mitigation measures and provide clear processes linked to company recruitment, performance assessment and disciplinary procedures. The procedures shall also include responsible processes operating team may consist of internal experts such as HR, medical officer, and legal.
Further, the procedure shall include post incident response, grievance mechanisms and investigations procedures. Post-incident response processes will help to heal all affected by a violent incident at work, including co-workers and family. Whist, grievance and investigation mechanism enable gender-based violence related complaints and concerns to be treated in a structured, impartial and confidential manners. Providing effective channels for reporting grievances that include an anonymous option can help to encourage workers to report.
Lastly, a prevention strategy on gender-based violence is of little use if the organization do not increase issue awareness and communicate it to its workers and managers. In many situations, workplace actions and decisions depend as much on managers and workers behaviour as on strategy design and processes entail. The first step of changing “bad” behaviour shall start from providing expert insight of why the behaviour concerned is “bad”. Thus, organization may provide regular training to the workers and managers on introduction of gender-based violence, zero-tolerance policy, the importance of a violence free workplace, and the unacceptability of issue and how to get assistance.
 On 21 June 2019, the International Labour Organization introduced Convention No. 190 on the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work, including gender-based violence, supplemented with Recommendation No. 2016 of violence and harassment. Indonesia, like many of the ILO member countries, has yet ratified this Convention.