Men fear false sexual harassment accusations

| 16/08/2023 | 206 Comments
Senior Policy Analyst Karlene Bramwell, Deputy CO Lauren Knight and and psychologist Alexandra Bodden at the Sexual Harassment Bill town hall meeting, 15 August 2023, Cayman News Service
(L-R) Senior Policy Analyst Karlene Bramwell, Deputy CO Lauren Knight and and psychologist Alexandra Bodden at the Sexual Harassment Bill town hall meeting, 15 August

(CNS): Two in five women in the Cayman Islands have been subjected to unwanted sexual harassment, which is higher than the global statistic of around 25%, according to local officials. And while around 10% of men report being sexually harassed, one in four fear being falsely accused more than becoming victims.

During a town hall meeting in George Town on Tuesday evening, officials from the Cayman Islands Government’s Gender Affairs Unit (GAU) presented the latest draft of the Sexual Harassment Bill 2023 and outlined what is in the legislation and what it is designed to achieve.

GAU Senior Policy Analyst Karlene Bramwell, who led the discussion, noted that sexual harassment is pervasive worldwide, including here in Cayman. The bill aims to create safe work and other institutional places, free of unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature.

But Bramwell said the government has recognised that there is a fear the law will be misused or that some actions or comments could be misunderstood. During the consultation period, some men had expressed concerns that the law could fuel false allegations, she said, but noted that the legislation provides sanctions for vexatious, frivolous and false allegations.

The bill covers broad sections of society and requires institutions, such as employers, landlords, church leaders and people who run places of entertainment, to prevent the sexual harassment of their workers or clients.

Employers will be required to roll out a specific policy to prohibit and deal with sexual harassment and bullying. The law does not cover sexual harassment on the street, though if the victim and perpetrator are work colleagues or members of the same church, it could cover those cases.

While sexual abuse and indecent assault are crimes, sexual harassment currently falls through the legislative cracks of the Penal Code. While this legislation is expected to address some of the gaps that allow perpetrators to get away with what can often be extremely unpleasant, even frightening, behaviour for victims, there will still be cases not covered by the proposed bill.

The legislation focuses heavily on workplaces and other institutions. It includes a sample policy for employers, which is based on the civil service’s current anti-bullying and harassment policy. This was written by Lauren Knight, the deputy chief officer in the Portfolio of the Civil Service, and implemented in 2020. Knight said it was robust and outlined what is and is not acceptable workplace behaviour and the responsibility people have to prevent it.

Alexandra Bodden, a psychologist in the private sector and a member of the Business and Professional Women’s Club, which began the campaign for this legislation, pointed out that the goal is to create environments where people feel comfortable being able to reject what is inappropriate behaviour and a culture of intolerance towards those who seek to demean others.

Bodden explained that it’s not about misunderstanding jokes but about creating spaces where jokes or comments that undermine others are not acceptable. She said this legislation is just the first step in a cultural shift towards the attitude of sexual harassment, but it will begin to codify what is and is not harassment and bullying.

Bodden added that sexual harassment is a form of bullying and it can undermine the victim’s physical as well as their mental health and undermines productivity.

See the draft legislation and details of where you can submit comments and questions here.

Watch the townhall presentation below on CIGTV:

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Category: Laws, Politics

Comments (206)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    as a man i was subject to a false accusation from my then wife, following my filing for divorce from her. i was advised to leave the house that i alone was paying the bank for. this was a deliberate and malicious tactic.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This statute has been drafted by a bunch of inexperienced children and should be shelved. There’s a place for legislation to deter sexual harassment etc, but it needs to be drafted by grown-ups.

  3. We need a good clean out says:

    If you had any suspicions that there is a prevalence of toxic mentality in cayman, the comments on this article will remove all doubt. Is the island full of these weird psychologically stunted males or are they just overrepresented in this article because of their insecurity and urge to protect their creepy way of life? If our political representation (see one McKeeva Bush) is any indication, probably both 😢

    • Anonymous says:

      I like what you say 9:27 because it immeasurably validates the concerns from any men out there wary of the bills to be instituted immune women out there wielding unwarranted accusations. I’ve been meaning to applaud a women on here that has been vocal about her concerns that may occur if the bill is implemented in its current form and equally share my own beliefs that a women, anyone who identifies as LBGTQ, or male should not have to endure any kind of harassment or bullying but its the draft in this case which is stunted.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if the Cayman Ministers Association is aware of what this bill will do to their ability to speak out on issues they hold near and dear?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Then what is going to happen to the Minister that was fired?

    • Anonymous says:

      Someone will make d*** sure the the complaint is filed 19 months after the offence.

    • Anonymous says:


      Even if this bill becomes law in its current form the Tribunal that will decide these cases are all political appointees – so still nothing

  6. Anonymous says:

    While some are speaking out against the provisions of this bill it will be of great assistance to the queer community who face discrimination. If this bill had been in effect during the debates on same sex marriage it would have been possible for us to use language of this bill and the power of the state against the churches, pastors, ministers and other bigots who spoke out against gay and queer life styles.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Times have changed. We now have a proposed She woman man haters club.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think that it is fair to say that we have some serious problems in this country. Unfortunately this Bill does not properly address any of them.

  9. Anonymous says:

    According to section 17 of this Bill, if this becomes law every church, mosque, synagogue, non-profit, charity, sports club, book club and every other informal and formal association is going to be required to develop, issue and enforce harassment policies in accordance with the new law. Probably a good thing. Personally, I am looking forward to seeing the fundamentalist churches published non-discrimination policies regarding the LGBQT+ community.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Section 4 of the bill imposes obligations on everyone in the Cayman Islands to create and disseminate a sexual harassment policy document to everyone they employ including every helper, baby sitter, dog walker, gardener, car washer, lawn cutter, handyman, etc. even if that employment is a one-off or only very occasional. There is no exception for casual labour. The penalty for non-compliance is a criminal conviction and substantive fine.
    This bill would be silly if it was not so dangerous.


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