Sexually harassing your colleague at work could make them suicidal.
This is according to a new study, which shows the risk of suicide or an attempt due to workplace sexual harassment for both men and women.
Studies have previously suggested that sexual victimisation, generally, not necessarily at the workplace, may lead to suicidal tendencies.
This new study now narrows down to the workplace. “Workplace interventions focusing on the social work environment and behaviours could contribute to a decreased burden of suicide,” advised the researchers on how to prevent incidence.
However, the researchers said more studies were needed to determine the cause and risk factors for workplace sexual harassment.
The study comes at a time when the Health ministry has reported an increase in sexual violence especially on young girls between the ages of 10 and 17 years.
The ministry reported that there had been a 25 per cent increase in such violence.
Health Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi said restricted movement and social isolation measures had led to an exponential increase in gender based violence. A total of 8,416 sexual gender based violence cases have been reported between January and July compared to 6,229 in the same period last year.
Dr Mwangangi said while the stay-at-home directive was key in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, it had caused young women and girls pain. “During an emergency such as the Covid-19 pandemic, women and girls are at particular risk of harm when social and structural support systems around them collapse,” she said.
Dr Mwangangi said many women were trapped in their homes with their abusers while being cut off from normal support services, which in turn took a toll on their mental wellbeing.
“Many face disintegration of their families and other social networks, and are susceptible to mental and physical trauma, malnutrition, disease, long-term disability, poverty and especially violence from both intimate partners and other perpetrators,” she said.
Dr Mwangangi said the same measures had resulted in a significant rise in incidence of rape, defilement, domestic violence as well as an increase in intimate partner violence. “Consequently, it leads to unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, STIs including HIV, and maternal illness and death,” she said.
The Health ministry has set up a state-run toll-free number (1195) that provides psychosocial support and care as well as referral for survivors.
Her remarks comes at a time when the lobbies have called for action to protect women and girls from gender-based violence during this pandemic.