President of the Industrial Court, Deborah Thomas-Felix yesterday said there should be amendments to the Domestic Violence Act to protect people in the world of work from criminal acts detailed in the law. She made the call during her address at a special sitting of the court to mark the opening of the new law term.
Thomas-Felix said International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 190 (the Violence and Harassment Convention 2019) and Violence and Harassment Recommendation No. 206, speak to the elimination of violence and harassment in the work place.
She said for the first time, violence and harassment in the world of work are covered together in international labour standards.
Thomas-Felix said that in the past, there was no universal definition of sexual harassment, however, in Convention 190, the term “violence and harassment” in the world of work is defined as, a range of unacceptable behaviours and practices, or threats thereof, whether a single occurrence or repeated, that aim at, result in, or are likely to result in physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm, and includes gender-based violence and harassment.
She said the term “gender-based violence and harassment” is defined as violence and harassment directed at people because of their sex or gender, or affecting people of a particular sex or gender disproportionately, and include sexual harassment.
Thomas-Felix said in her view, the definitions potentially covered physical abuse, verbal abuse, bullying and mobbing, sexual harassment, threats and stalking, among other things.
“Now that domestic violence is out of the shadows and it is included in a Convention which deals with issues at the workplace, one wonders if the prescribed period for a visiting relationship, as defined by our Domestic Violence Act, will be repealed to afford every victim of domestic violence protection under the law.”
She added that if this country ratified Convention 190, one could only hope new legislation would emerge which addressed all issues related to violence and harassment in society.
Speaking after the special sitting, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said there were drafted amendments to the Domestic Violence Act.
“It is near complete and I need another week on it. It deals with the ILO standards. It is the most comprehensive review of the Domestic Violence legislation that we have had since the legislation was passed.”
He added that once the Budget was passed, the final package of legislation will be laid on the Parliament’s agenda and would include amendments to the Domestic Violence Act.