Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 27, 2020

Harassment, Seclusion and the Status of Women in the Workplace: An Islamic and International Human Rights Perspective

Sarah Balto


Since the mid-nineteenth century, women in Europe, North America and elsewhere have played an increasing role in the workforce. Women started pursuing jobs in factories, offices and businesses instead of being dependent on men for their livelihood. However, along with this significant improvement in the status of women, they still face obstacles, such as the gender pay gab and harassment in the workplace. Although both males and females experience harassment, the available literature clearly suggests that females are more likely to be harassed. Much of the research concerning workplace harassment against women has been conducted in the West while little is known about this phenomenon in workplaces across the Arab and Muslim countries. In fact, gender relations and the nature of workplaces in Arab countries vary significantly from the Western workplace due to religious, social and cultural traditions. Muslim women live in the midst of patriarchal cultures where women’s honour is believed to be sacred. The ideology of women’s seclusion and subordination resulted in the restriction of their ability to participate in the labour force even where females are in urgent need of earned income. In this regard, harassment considers a crucial subject on various international agendas. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) for instance, reinforces the implementation of legislation that protects women against gender discrimination. Islam in a similar manner respects women and acknowledges their major role within a society. Therefore, as women living in Muslim communities where issues related to sexuality are sensitive, and people are reluctant to discuss such questions in public, this paper aims to discuss women seclusion, the situation of Muslim women with regard to harassment in the workplace, how international human rights deals with harassment as well as the relation between the Islamic jurisprudence and the international human rights with regard harassment in the workplace.

Corresponding author: Sarah Balto, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland, E-mail:

Published Online: 2020-07-27

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