By Monica Brown

Hi there Everybody.

Not sure what to make of the weather today but to me it is cold. My fingers are even stiff while typing away.

Today as promised we will discuss #part1 of the article *Addressing Gender-Based Violence in the South African Workplaces*.

Without further delays let us get into all the definitions so that we can all have a clear understanding of what the complexities are about when it comes to addressing gender-based violence in the workplace.

What is GBV in the workplace?

GBV in the workplace refers to any harmful or discriminatory actions, behaviours or threats targeting individuals based on their gender or sex.It encompasses a range of actions, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse or economic abuse that affect the well-being and safety of individuals within their professional environments.

Such violence can take various forms, such as sexual harassment, assault, intimidation, unequal treatment or the perpetuation of gender stereotypes. It is important to address and prevent gender-based violence in the workplace to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all employees.

What is Sexual Harassment in the workplace?

#sexualharassment in the workplace refers to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, or any other verbal, physical or visual contact of a sexual nature that interferes with an individuals work performance or creates an intimidating , hostile or offensive work environment.

Sexual harassment can occur between individuals of the same or different genders and can involve supervisors, co-workers, clients or customers.

Examples of sexual harassment include unwanted sexual comments, explicit gestures, displaying inappropriate materials, unwelcome touching or making employment decisions based on the acceptance or rejection of sexual advances.

It is important to address and prevent sexual harassment to foster a respectful and safe working environment for everyone.

What is discrimination in the workplace?

Discrimination in the workplace refers to the unfair or unequal treatment of employees or job applicants based on certain protected characteristics.

These characteristics can include race, colour of your skin, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability or any other legally protected status.

discrimination can manifest in various forms such as hiring or promotion bias, unequal pay, harassment, denial of benefits, unfair work assignments or creating a hostile work environment.

It is illegal in South Africa to discriminate against individuals based on these protected characteristics and organisations are expected to provide equal opportunities and a non-discriminatory work environment for all employees.

What is verbal abuse in the workplace?

Verbal abuse in the workplace refers to the use of harmful, derogatory or offensive language tone or communication towards an individual or group of employees.

It involves the intentional use of words, insults or verbal attacks that are meant to demean, belittle, intimidate or humiliate others.

Verbal abuse can take various forms, including shouting, insults, offensive jokes, derogatory comments about a persons race, gender, religion or other personal characteristics and consistent criticism or humiliation.

Verbal abuse creates a hostile and toxic work environment that can negatively impact on the well-being of the individuals targeted.

It is important for organisations to establish policies and promote a culture of respect to prevent and address verbal abuse in the workplace.

What is physical abuse in the workplace?

Physical abuse in the workplace refers to any intentional physical act of violence or aggression directed towards an employee or multiple employees.

It involves the use of physical force that can cause bodily harm, injury or threat to a persons safety within the working environment.

Physical abuse can take various forms such as hitting, kicking, pushing, punching, slapping, biting or any other form of physical assault.

It may also involve the use of objects or weapons to harm others.


Organisations should have policies in lace to prevent and address physical abuse and ensure the safety and security of their employees.

What is workplace bullying?

Workplace bullying refers to repeated and persistent mistreatment, aggression or intimidation towards an individual or a group of employees within the work environment.

It involves the use of power imbalances to assert control and cause harm.

Workplace bullying can take on many forms including verbal abuse, offensive behaviour, humiliation, constant criticism, spreading rumours, exclusion, sabotage or assigning excessive and unreasonable workloads.

The behaviour is typically ongoing, systematics and targeted towards a specific individual or group, creating a hostile and intimidating work environment.

Workplace bullying can have severe negative effects on the victim’s mental and emotional well-being, job satisfaction and overall productivity.

Organisations should have policies in place to prevent and address workplace bullying, fostering a culture of respect and ensuring the well-being of their employees.

What is online workplace bullying?

Online workplace bullying is a reality and not much talked about. Online workplace bullying is also known as cyberbullying or digital workplace- bullying refers to the use of digital communication channels or online platforms to engage in bullying behaviours within a working environment.

Digital workplace-bullying involves the repeated and deliberate harassment, intimidation or humiliation of an employee or group of employees using electronic means.

Online workplace-bullying can occur through various channels such as emails, instant messaging , social media platforms or online forums.

Examples of online workplace-bullying include sending threatening or derogatory messages, spreading fake rumours or gossip, publicly shaming or ridiculing someone online, excluding or isolating individuals from online discussions or collaborations or posting offensive or demeaning comments about someone’s work or personal characteristics.

Online workplace-bullying can have significant negative effects on the targeted individuals , including increased stress, anxiety, decreased job satisfaction and diminished productivity.

It is important for organisations to establish policies and guidelines addressing online workplace-bullying and to promote a culture of respectful online communication to ensure the well-being and safety of their employees in the digital realm.

What is intimidation in the workplace?

Intimidation in the workplace refers to the use of threats, fear or coercion to create a hostile or fearful environment for an individual or a group of employees.

Intimidation in the workplace involves behaviours or actions intended to instill a sense of fear , apprehension, or unease in others, often with the aim of exerting power or control over them.

Intimidation can take various forms such as aggressive body language, verbal threats gestures or non-verbal cues that suggest harm or reprisal. It can also include the abuse of authority, displaying dominance or making veiled or explicit threats to job security, career advance or personal safety.

Intimidation in the workplace can have detrimental effects on the well-being , moral and performance of the individuals targeted.

It is crucial for organisations to foster a culture of respect, address instances of intimidation promptly and provide support systems to ensure a safe and inclusive working environment.

What is workplace stalking?

Workplace stalking refers to the persistent and unwanted pursuit or harassment of an employee by another individual, causing them fear, distress or a reasonable apprehension of harm.

The stalker can be a manager, a co-worker, a client or a customer even.

Workplace stalking involves unwelcome and intrusive behaviours that may include following the victim, making unwanted contact through various means such as phone calls, emails or messages, showing up uninvited at your department or section that you work in or other locations, even your home, sending excessive or threatening messages, spreading false rumours or monitoring your activities without your consent.

Stalking in the workplace is a serious issue that can create a hostile and unsafe environment for the victim.it can significantly impact their mental and emotional well-being, productivity and overall job satisfaction.

Employers have a responsibility to address and prevent workplace stalking , implement security measures, provide support to the victim and take appropriate actions to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees.

Legal remedies and protective measures may also be available to assist victims of workplace stalking.

Final Thoughts

Gender- based violence in the workplace is a deeply concerning issue that deserves significant attention and concerted efforts to address and prevent it.

It not only violates the fundamental rights and dignity of individuals but also undermines their ability to work in a safe , inclusive and productive environment.

Organisations should invest in comprehensive training and awareness programs to educate employees about their rights, promote healthy work relationships and prevent gender-based violence.

Monica Brown, Changemaker, Activist And Social Entrepreneur, CRW NEWS Freelance Columnist

Article Reproduced with Permission from Monica Brown

To view the original article by Monica Brown on LinkedIn visit here

We hope you enjoyed the article, there will be more regular weekly articles from Monica Brown coming soon.