JOHANNESBURG: 21 May 2018 – The board and executive committee of SECTION27 have noted the serious allegations of sexual harassment against three leaders at Equal Education as well as globally in institutions like UNAIDS. We are disturbed by reports that suggest that a culture of predatory behaviour, harassment and exploitation appears to exist in organisations that stand for gender equality and human rights.

SECTION27 is a human rights organisation comprising of activists, feminists and human rights lawyers. We condemn and combat all forms of abuses of power, including sexual harassment, sexual violence and sexism. We expect that human rights activists practice what we preach and lead by personal example.

We support all brave women who come forward with their experiences often at personal and emotional costs. The prevalence of sexual harassment in our society, which the recent examples show exists in all sectors, requires us to introspect and work harder to create organisational cultures that prohibit and punish sexual harassment and are conducive to women reporting their experiences of abuse without fear of reprisal.

We further support swift disciplinary processes that prioritise the safety of staff and which seek to ensure that predatory behaviour is dealt with immediately and in terms of the due processes of the law.

Sexual harassment affects first and foremost those who have been targeted. But it also has consequences for families and partners of men accused of sexual harassment, and staff in affected organisations. We believe it is necessary to show solidarity with and support to all affected women.

In light of recent events, we will revisit our policies and facilitate broader discussions in respect of gender sensitivity within the workplace following consultations with our all staff next week and with experts in this field.  This is to ensure that SECTION27’s own organisational culture meets the highest standard and is a conducive space for women for to come forward where they do experience harassment or abuse.

We hope that civil society will use this moment to align our external values as organisations with the internal practice of those values.

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For more information contact:

Ntsiki Mpulo at mpulo@section27.org.za or 082 782 7143

Anso Thom at thom@section27.org.za or 082 466 7822