(Published - 17 September 2018)
Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane - the South Gauteng High Court judge who has presided over several high profile matters - has also warned that sexual harassment cases against women in the workplace are pervasive. There are judgments from the courts that have found that resignations as a result of sexual harassment does constitute unfair dismissal.
The University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Faculty of Law and the Dullah Omar Institute hosted Judge Kathree-Setiloane for a conversation with a select number of postgraduate students about women’s rights, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the of building an inclusive society in South Africa.
“There are reports that women are facing more sexual harassment cases in the workplace in South Africa than ever. Research shows us that black women suffer the most in SA - sexual harassment policies in the workplace have been adopted, but often women are not aware of them and how the procedures work - this is all part of the problem,” she said.
According to Judge Kathree-Setiloane said women can only attain true empowerment once gender based violence, poverty and the structural discrimination against women are addressed. In addition, she said Statistics South Africa has found that unemployment was much higher for women than it is for men.
“We are not where we should be, but for the SDGs to be achieved fully, citizens need to take full responsibility to achieve this. We need to make our voices heard, we need to shed light, and debate theses issues to make a difference,” she said.
Judge Kathree-Setiloane also underscored the role that academics and institutions such as UWC should play in informing, through their scholarship, the jurisprudence of courts on critical issues such as women’s rights. She cited previous examples of academic work, including from the UWC Faculty of Law, that have been influential in informing legal decisions by the Courts.
In previous conversation sessions, the Faculty of Law and the Dullah Omar Institute hosted the Netherlands Ambassador for Human Rights, and Professor Pierre De Vos who spoke to postgraduate students on the issue of the use of force by police and the human rights of those accused of criminal offences.