Throughout this knowledge module, reference to certain provisions or sections of a piece of legislation, part of a legal judgment, or aspect of a practice does not imply that the legislation, judgment, or practice is considered in its entirety to be a good example or a promising practice.

Some of the laws cited herein may contain provisions which authorize the death penalty. In light of the United Nations General Assembly resolutions 62/14963/16865/206, and 67/176 calling for a moratorium on and ultimate abolition of capital punishment, the death penalty should not be included in sentencing provisions for crimes of violence against women and girls.

Other Provisions Related to Domestic Violence LawsResources for Developing Legislation on Domestic Violence
Sexual Harassment in Sport Tools for Drafting Sexual Harassment Laws and Policies
Immigration Provisions Resources for developing legislation on sex trafficking of women and girls
Child Protection Provisions Resources on Forced and Child Marriage
Other provisions related to dowry-related and domestic violence laws
Related Tools

Core Elements of Sexual Harassment Laws

Last edited: January 13, 2011

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Sexual harassment can occur in multiple contexts and legislation should comprehensively address each of these in order to fully protect the rights of women and girls. This module includes specific information about harassment in employment, education, sports, housing, and provision of goods and services. In any context, however, laws prohibiting sexual harassment should include the following general components:

  • A statement of purpose, also known as a preamble, that references international, regional, and existing national protections against discrimination and violence against women;
  • A broad definition that includes examples of prohibited behavior;
  • Judicial and/or administrative procedures to enforce the prohibition on harassment, including confidential complaint procedures;
  • Provision for effective, proportionate compensation and/or reparation related to damages and losses suffered as a result of the harassment;
  • Dissuasive penalties for perpetrators;
  • Placing the burden of proof in civil proceedings on the alleged perpetrator, once a prima facie case is made;
  • Protections against retaliation;
  • Guidance for interpretation of the law;
  • Measures for prevention such as policy development, including confidential complaint procedures, and training;
  • Designated oversight body with the power to enforce the law, provide assistance to victims, collect data, and publish appropriate reports.