|UN Resident Coordinator in Vietnam Kamal Malhotra (Photo: un.org.vn)
“Sexual harassment offends the very principles of what we stand for as an Organisation and undermines the core values of integrity, competence, and professionalism expected of all”, he quoted UN Secretary General António Guterres as saying.
As the courage of #MeToo speakers across the world forces a reconsideration of how violence against women is managed and ended, the UN expressed its solidarity with victims and with the pressure for change, he said, noting that the issue is urgent in Vietnam as well as the rest of the world.
There has been denial and minimisation of sexual abuse and negative consequences for victims who dare to name their experiences. These are gendered experiences: the majority of perpetrators are men and the majority of victims are women- a reflection of how power is distributed at home, at work, and in public places.
Under the Agenda 2030, there is a commitment agreed by all states to end violence against women, he underlined, adding that everyone must be part of the effort to create a world free of violence.
“It will require belief as a starting point, enabling victims to name what has happened to them without blame, stigmatisation or humiliation. It will require a change of cultures in all workplaces and all organisations – whether public, private sector, civil society organisations, media or international organisations should practice zero tolerance with respect to violence or harassment of any kind.”
There should be consequences for those who choose to abuse and not comply. It cannot continue that sexually abusive behaviour is considered as an inevitable part of the lives of those abused, whether women or men, something to be endured by victims no matter the personal cost to them.
Both men and women need to step up and raise their voices against sexual abuse - examining their own behaviour, challenging abusers and supporting victims.
The UN in Vietnam reaffirms its full commitment to the UN's zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment. Zero tolerance means that even one case is one too many.
It pledged to provide a work environment free from sexual harassment in which every staff is valued and respected. A harmonious, safe and respectful workplace is key to delivering on mandate for the people the UN serves. It will ensure that allegations of sexual harassment are responded to swiftly, fairly and effectively.
He said that the UN will also support and encourage Vietnam to increase its efforts to break the culture of silence and impunity so that sexual harassment is not tolerated anytime, anywhere in Vietnam, and that Vietnam's laws and their implementation is in conformity with its international Human Rights commitments and obligations.