n Journal of Public Administration - The pathology of sexual harassment in the South African public service

Volume 42, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The South African public service is a reflection of the society from which it is drawn and it in turn serves. The moral decay that is evident in the society is often displayed by public servants and politicians. Sexual harassment in the public service epitomises the moral decay of the South African society. Sexual harassment cases of prominent public officials and politicians have appeared in the media. The appearance of cases involving prominent officials and politicians in the media suggest that there are many cases of sexual harassment that do not get the attention of the media or the victims are scared to bring their agony to light. Sexual harassment is a clandestine disrespect of ethical norms of the public service. Sexual harassment represents unethical behaviour based on the abuse of power or the perpetrator taking advantage of the situation in which the victim is vulnerable. The approach taken by this article is counter to the belief that sexual harassment is confined to the relations between male and female. South Africa is a diverse country with a liberal Constitution hence sexual orientation cannot be ignored as a factor in exploring sexual harassment in the public service. This article assesses the nature and extent of sexual harassment in the South African public service, available policies to deal with this pathology, the impact of sexual harassment on the harassed employee and productivity, and makes recommendations for future actions.

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