Singapore has come a long way in providing support for victims of workplace harassment and seeking redress for them.
Led by the tripartite efforts of employers, unions and the Government, as well as through initiatives from non-governmental organisations such as the Association of Women for Action and Research and the Sexual Assault Care Centre, victims of workplace harassment are better empowered to voice out their grievances. More importantly, they can obtain closure following their painful ordeal that is often accompanied by long-term psychological and emotional repercussions (2 in 5 workers polled faced sexual harassment, Jan 15).
Reaching out to someone for assistance can be an intimidating task, however, given that victims need to overcome their apprehension and the trauma of the incident, muster courage to speak up against authority should the perpetrator be a workplace superior, and persist through the entire process of reporting and interviews - all of which involve revisiting wounds and exacerbate distress when healing should take centre stage.
Although procedural rigour is important to ensure validity and investigative impartiality of cases that are reported, I wonder if more can be done to augment existing frameworks to help manage workplace harassment cases, including the following:
• Assign committed case managers who will give victims reassurance at every stage of the process,
• Ensure regular communication between agencies and victims.
The emotional and mental scarring inflicted by workplace harassment should not be downplayed.
Andrew Ee Changshun