Judiciary staff reported bullying & sexual harassment but complaints rarely filed, new study reveals

Judiciary staff reported bullying & sexual harassment but complaints rarely filed, new study reveals

Employees in the Judiciary reported bullying and sexual harassment in significant numbers but complaints were rarely filed or successfully addressed, a new report has revealed.

According to the study done by the National Gender and Equality Commission, women also appeared to participate less as litigants in the formal justice sector.

“The Gender Audit sought to analyze the gender sensitivity and responsiveness of the Judiciary as a whole in its internal operations and delivery on its external mandate. This involved looking at how the Judiciary managed its workforce and how it delivered justice to its constituents,” said Dr. Joyce M. Mutinda, the commission’s Chairperson.

Dr. Mutinda revealed that court processes and case management, including Court Annexed Mediation programs, were often not viewed from a gender perspective.

Even in court decisions discussing constitutional principles, the study found that the language used sometimes lacked gender sensitivity.

It was also discovered that the Judiciary Training Institute did not often and consistently provide for training on gender equality and how to apply it in service delivery and the workplace.

Moreover, discrimination was largely understood to only encompass direct discrimination based on formal equality.

Another area of concern is that the Judiciary lacked a formal plan or a framework for achieving gender parity within specific timeframes in its senior leadership positions.

“Gender-based accommodation for litigants was largely employee-initiated and not consistently practiced across all courts,” the report adds.

The National Gender and Equality Commission has called on the Judiciary to adopt a comprehensive gender policy; increase the number of women in senior leadership roles and develop a gender-sensitive and inclusive training curriculum for all employees.

Further, Dr. Mutinda says to help the Judiciary follow a path towards fulfilling its constitutional obligations, there should be measures that ensure fairness in court-annexed mediation; simple education materials on equality and non-discrimination to educate the public; and development of quality legal research ability.