Law needed to restrain male behavior in mixed-gender workplaces: Study

newsimageDAMMAM — A prominent sociologist has suggested new legislation to restrain men who pose a threat in mixed-gender work environments through their menacing behavior toward women colleagues. Eman Al-Adwani said the Saudi labor law does not include articles that clearly define workplace harassment and set out punishment for abusive behavior. Al-Adwani conducted a research study on the rights of women working in the retail sector as envisaged in the labor law. She presented her findings and recommendations to the Department of Shariah and Law at Naif Arab University for Security Sciences. In her study, Al-Adwani highlighted how the Saudi Labor Law currently lacks any mechanism to address the abuse and harassment women employees face in the private sector. “The labor law needs articles that clearly define all types of harassment as well as punishments for them,” said Al-Adwani. “There are two types of harassment female employees generally go through. The first type is verbal and physical harassment; it is initiated directly or indirectly through sexually explicit remarks and inappropriate stares or gestures. The second type is blackmail and often involves withholding promotions and other incentives unless the victim responds positively to her superior’s wishes,” she added. Al-Adwani’s study explores the main problems and requirements of female employees in their workplaces. “From an Islamic perspective, both men and women are encouraged to work. Islam also makes it clear that women should be protected from all sorts of harm in the workplace,” Al-Adwani pointed out. It is also important to recognize and appreciate the fact that women’s inclusion in the job market had brought massive benefits to the national economy and Saudi society as a whole, she said. For the most part, the labor law does not differentiate between women and men but for a few exceptions. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development was the first authority to give women the permission to work in the retail sector. Implementing the decision in stages, the ministry sought to gradually introduce women into the national workforce. “Now the onus is on the Ministry of Labor to further help women by punishing men who harass them in their places of work,” added Al-Adwani.