Enforcement & Oversight

Anti-discrimination laws also generally designate a specific oversight body with power to enforce the legislation, such as an equality commission or a national human rights institution. Enforcement agencies should be empowered under law to facilitate:

  • Filing of complaints;
  • Investigation of complaints;
  • Resolution or settlement of claims through conciliation or adjudication;
  • Gathering data on the problem;
  • Recommendations for systems or legislative reform; and
  • Support to victims throughout the process.

Examples of such enforcement bodies with oversight of sexual harassment issues include:

CASE STUDY - South Africa

The government of South Africa has created several entities that are involved in sexual harassment monitoring, enforcement and policy-making. In accordance with the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair & Discrimination Act, the South African Human Rights Commission Equality Unit (1) assists sexual harassment complainants to begin proceedings in equality court, particularly complainants who are disadvantaged, (2) conducts investigations into sexual harassment cases and makes recommendations as directed by the court regarding persistent violations of the act or cases of harassment referred to them by an equality court, and (3) requests regular reports from the Department of Justice and constitutional development regarding the number of sexual harassment cases and the nature and outcome of these cases. (See: Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair & Discrimination Act (2000), para. 25(3)) In cooperation with the Human Rights Commission, the South African Commission on Gender Equality addresses issues relating to sexual harassment as well. The functions of this commission include research on sexual harassment for the benefit of parliament and other authorities as well as education and investigations relating to sexual harassment. (See: Commission on Gender Equality Act 1996; Monitoring Workplace Practices and Enforcing Sexual Harassment Law, StopVAW, The Advocates for Human Rights.)