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Mongolian union fights sexual harassment at work

12 November, 2020IndustriALL affiliate MEGM is determined to fight sexual harassment at the workplace, calling on the Mongolian government to revise the country’s labour law to to protect women’s rights.

According to Breaking the silence for equality: 2017 National Study on Gender-based Violence in Mongolia commissioned by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 57.9 per cent of surveyed Mongolian women experienced either physical, sexual, emotional and economic violence. 31.2 per cent experienced physical and/or sexual violence.

The Mongolian government has taken active measures to eliminate gender discrimination. A law on Promotion of Gender Equality was enacted in 2011, which allows trade unions to lodge complaints on gender discrimination at the workplace, including sexual harassment, with the National Human Rights Commission.

In 2015, the government introduced a Law on Sexual Harassment,. However, it was scrapped after two years after a parliamentarian argued that sexual violence was already prohibited, and a standalone sexual harassment law could be misused and unfair for men.

Speaking to 40 women participants at the Federation of Energy, Geology and Mining Workers’ Trade Unions of Mongolia (MEGM) women conference in Ulaanbaatar on 5-6 November, MEGM president Buyanjargal Khuyag said:

“30 percent of our members are women, working side by side with men 12 hours a day, in difficult and harmful conditions. After 28 days of work at the mine site and 14 days off, there is risk of child abuse and divorce. It is important to revise the labour law to protect women and their rights.”

Secretary for energy and women committee leader of MEGM, Dolgor Duinaakhuu, said:

“Many victims are reluctant to come forward because confidential information on sexual violence is often revealed in court proceedings. The government must establish easy and comfortable procedures to handle sexual harassment complaints, so women won’t feel intimidated.

“The tendency to blame women persists in all spheres of society, gender stereotypes require women to tolerate domestic violence and blindly obey their husbands.”

IndustriALL South East Asia regional secretary Annie Adviento says:

“I congratulate MEGM for organizing the successful women conference highlighting issues on gender equality including Convention 190. It is crucial for unionists to campaign for the elimination of violence and harassment at work, especially after the violent incidence at Thermal Power Plant 2 SSH Co. in October.”