Women in the country are suering silently from sexual exploitation at workplaces, with employers being accused of taking advantage of young girls and women who are desperate for employment.
A new report by anti corruption watchdog, Transparency International Rwanda, revealed that up to 75 percent of women in Rwanda face cases of sexual exploitation while looking for an employment.
The report dubbed, gender-based corruption at the workplace, indicates that the vice is more concentrated in the private sector at 57 percent, followed by higher learning institutions at 42 percent.
While the prevalence in local government structures stands at 37 percent.
The country-wide research with a sample size of more than 1,200 people at different levels indicated that 25 percent of the men were subjected to gender-based corruption at workplaces. It had been three and a half years since Uwimana Angelique (Not real names) graduated, but she hadn’t yet landed a job despite applying in many institutions.
Along the way, she had got job offers informally, but in exchange for sexual favours, which she kept brushing away, but nothing changed in her job search.
In the third year, she was desperate and when another man offered her an attractive job also in exchange for sex, she gave in.
“What shocked me the most was how rampant it was, I was asked for sexual favours in almost all jobs I applied for, and in different sectors, at one point I thought maybe this is how people get jobs these days only that no one talks about it, and I was tired of being needy, so I gave in and I got the job” she said.
Another girl said she could not give in, that after getting tired of being asked for sex as a condition to get employed, she decided to get married so she can be taken care of by the husband. It worked out well for her because after getting married the husband opened a business for her, but it doesn’t work out like that for everyone.
The research reveals that gender-based corruption is present at the workplace with 79.70 percent of respondents testifying that they have heard about gender-based corruption in their workplaces in the previous 12 months.
Marie Immaculée Ingabire, Transparency International Rwanda chairperson, said in the light of the existing clear legal framework and high political will to curb corruption, there is urgent need for all actors to collaboratively take actions to fight gender-based corruption because it exists in Rwanda.
The country’s Chief gender monitor Rose Rwabuhihi said the job of weeding out gender-based corruption at workplaces cannot be done by government alone.
“Our collaboration is vital in this endeavour. All institutions should have internal mechanisms and make constant inspections,” she said.
The report shows that 39.3 percent of victims of sexual exploitation at workplaces choose to ignore it and remain silent.
Other respondents report to close colleagues at work (20percent), their families (15 percent), their company management (15 percent) ant-corruption bodies (9.4 percent) while 1.6 percent accept it.
Some people fail to report gender-based corruption in the workplace due to fear of retaliation, others lack sufficient evidence to file complaints to the appropriate authorities. The perception that reporting the case would change nothing has also contributed to victims remaining silent.
Some people have pointed to lack of transparency in recruiting and promoting of employees and provision of other staff benefits, as one of the breeding grounds of the vice.
Poverty, lack of self-confidence, limited knowledge about employers and employee rights and labor laws have also been pointed out as causative factors.