Wits staffer facing sexual harassment claims quits

2018-11-06 13:12
WITS. (Drum, file)

WITS. (Drum, file)

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A staff member at the University of Witwatersrand-based Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) has resigned before a hearing into sexual harassment allegations against him could go ahead.

"The Gender Equity Office (GEO) has concluded its preliminary investigation into the allegations and referred the matter to a formal disciplinary hearing. A few days later, and prior to the hearing, the accused staff member resigned," CALS confirmed in a statement on Tuesday.

The complaint was originally made to the GEO at the end of August by a member of the Wits community.

The unit then proceeded with a formal complaint process, with the woman's consent.

"The GEO is a unit within the university with specialist expertise, set up to deal with complaints of sexual harassment. The unit provides a safe and confidential space for staff and students to report these incidents, offers them counselling, and oversees any related disciplinary procedure," CALS said.

CALS said it felt it was necessary to issue a statement, considering the prevalence of sexual harassment in academia and places of employment.

"Reports of incidents of sexual harassment are so often ignored, dismissed or made invisible, which can further compound the harm done. It is thus critical that, when reports of sexual harassment are made, they are acknowledged and taken seriously," the statement added.

The centre said wanted to assure civil society that it acknowledged its role in dealing openly with sexual harassment to create a safe and supportive space.

"We also acknowledge an ongoing responsibility to reflect on our own attitudes and understanding of sexual harassment and commit ourselves to learning more about this and how we can contribute to challenging this systemic problem."

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