Kosovo, High Rate of Sexual Harassment in Workplace

A man putting his left hand on his colleague's shoulder while at work (archive)
 A man putting his left hand on his colleague's shoulder while at work (archive)
 The extent of sexual harassment in Kosovo is still not accurately documented. However, in a summary of assessments from the Office for Good Governance operating within the Prime Minister's Office, it is stated that over 48% of citizens in Kosovo have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace during their lives. The majority, over 64%, are women, local media say.

These data are part of the guideline for the implementation of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy in the public administration, which was published on Monday by the Office for Good Governance.

The head of this office, Habit Hajredini, said that the guideline is part of the activities aimed at raising the awareness of central and local institutions about the implementation of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy, adopted by the government in 2020.

"To inform and raise awareness among central and local institutions and, of course, we will do this with our partners, with civil society. It is also a duty under the policy to work on capacity building through various trainings of responsible officials while creating suitable structures or mechanisms for the prevention and combat of sexual harassment in the public administration," said Mr. Hajredini.

The guideline reveals that meetings with officials from municipalities in all regions of Kosovo have shown a lack of knowledge about the Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy and insufficient efforts to implement it.

Mark Lasser, Head of the Law and Justice Section of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which supported the preparation of the guideline, drew attention to the low level of reporting of sexual harassment.

"This does not mean that there are no cases of sexual harassment. This implies that either people are unaware of this phenomenon or are concerned about retaliation, such as the loss of their jobs, so they decide not to report sexual harassment," he said.

Luljeta Demolli from the Kosovo Center for Gender Studies said that sexual harassment in Kosovo is linked to hierarchical roles in institutions.

"Sexual harassers in the workplace usually hold high positions in Kosovo and use their authority for decision-making on aspects that have a significant impact on the careers of employees, or they want to exercise control and power over the victim. On the other hand, victims in Kosovo are typically powerless, have no decision-making power, are vulnerable, and in low positions, often without employment contracts," she said.

Ms. Demolli emphasized that the guideline published today will also help address this phenomenon in the private sector, where it is quite common.

According to a study published this year by the Kosovo Center for Gender Studies, 64% of employed women in the private sector believe that sexual harassment is a prevalent phenomenon in this sector, but only 10% of them claim to have experienced this type of harassment.

The study shows that in over 65% of cases, non-reporting occurs due to fear of negative consequences in the family and fear of job loss.
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