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Woman regrets waiving sexual harassment complaint

She says she has lost everything and may have to leave the country

By Bassam Zaza Legal and Court Correspondent Published: 21:00 February 1, 2014

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Dubai: A young woman says she saw her professional aspirations and social life collapse the day she claims she was duped into waiving her sexual harassment complaint against her ex-boss. Describing her former boss as a sex beast, the 27-year-old Iranian woman says she has lost her job, car, savings, fiance-to-be, social life and, most importantly, her pride. A former marketing executive in a small company based in Dubai International Financial Centre, Laila was the only employee under the supervision of her line manager inside the office. He constantly harassed me verbally and physically. His main concern was to turn me into his sex slave which I constantly refused in a friendly, diplomatic and professional way. I couldnt afford or risk losing my job, otherwise it would be difficult for me to obtain a new labour visa. I would lose everything and be forced to leave the country, says Laila, whose name has been changed for legal purposes. The 27-year-old is now facing that exact scenario she is on the verge of leaving the UAE as she is penniless and unemployed. Her residency visa has been cancelled and she has been unable to obtain a new work permit that will allow her to stay in Dubai. Ive lost it all lost everything. I have spent all my savings and have failed to find a new job, hence I lost my residency. It was the biggest mistake of my life the day I agreed to waive my complaint against that sex beast. I shouldnt have done so. To all women out there, you need to learn from what happened to me and dont treat yourselves as criminals. If You are victims of sex predators. you have every right to complain, she told Gulf News. The young womans life took a dramatic turn when her British boss, whom she described as a perverted bully, tried to make her his mistress.

Describing herself as a respectful and good-mannered professional, the 27-year-old claims that she resisted her ex-bosss sexual advances and dealt with his managerial incompetence with the utmost decency and courtesy to avoid losing her job. In the end, I lost everything my job, potential fiance, end-of-service-benefits and myself. Simply, I lost myself for a period of three to four months, which I spent penniless, jobless and sleepless. I used to wake up at midnight crying and scared of that man haunting me in my dreams. Currently Im going through severe depression I cannot eat or sleep properly to the extent that two weekends ago I collapsed in a grocery store. I couldnt afford to go to hospital or see a doctor. My former boss was a full-time bully considering that he had the upper hand and constantly stalked me in the office. He breached my modesty and privacy verbally and in writing. The day he tried to kiss me, I grabbed my bag and walked out of the office without looking back. The minute I decided to complain to the police, my professional and personal life was turned upside down, she said. Laila said her ordeal caused her to become depressed and she suffered a breakdown. She said she shied away from friends and her plans to get engaged were shelved. Records obtained by Gulf News shows that Laila lodged a sexual harassment complaint at Bur Dubai police station last February. When summoned for questioning the British manager denied the accusations. The 27-year-old dropped her charges against the Briton after he signed an undertaking promising to stay away from her. As wrong as it may sound that I shouldnt have dropped my complaint, there was a big secret and a bigger story behind having taken that bitter decision. Before going to the police, I had repeatedly complained against my ex-managers professional misconduct and constant harassment to the companys human resources management. As a matter of fact, I had resigned for the aforementioned reasons more than twice within a few months of being hired. I was given constant promises that the companys senior management in London would take action, which never happened. I had also shown willingness and high professionalism to continue working for the company if they changed my line manager. To be honest, I was doing my best not to lose my job because I had several financial and visa issues considering my nationality, said Laila. Not optimistic Hailing from a decent family that brought her up to trust and respect people she claimed that she tried to deal with the situation so that there would be least damage. I agreed to trust the promises of my ex-boss lawyer and dropped the complaint. I should not have fallen for the lawyers promise that turned out to be a bluff. I was deceived and cheated I agreed to drop my police complaint as the lawyer had promised that I would get all my end-ofservice benefits. That never happened. According to a chain of e-mails that I exchanged with the companys senior manager, I was told that they were looking into my complaint seriously I was even told [via e-mail and over the phone by the senior management] that the company did

not want to lose me because I was described as an asset to the company and an efficient and productive employee. Nothing was resolved and the harassment issue continued, she said. Following nearly a year of continuous verbal and physical harassment besides being bullied in and outside the office, according to Laila, the Briton sent her an e-mail in which he impolitely asked her to surrender to his perverted desires. I admit that it was a mistake on my part to waive my complaint. I urge all victims of any form of sexual harassment or abuse never to keep silent. Speak out and stand up for your right to complain regardless of the ramifications. Currently Ive consulted with a lawyer who has agreed to take up my case for free on grounds of humanity he will study my file to decide whether it would be legally possible to reopen my criminal complaint or to present my case before the Dubai Civil Court. I am not so optimistic, but I hope things work out, Laila said. She has consulted with advocate Ali Mosabah Dahi about the possibility of taking future legal action against her former boss and employer. She has presented all her documents and papers. She provided me with a copy of the harassment and molestation complaint she lodged against her former boss at Bur Dubai police station. The fact that she waived her complaint might weaken her case currently I am still studying the file and will be looking into the possibility of taking legal action, civil or criminal, against the ex-boss and employer. Concerning the criminal action, she might not have a strong case. Meanwhile her chances are stronger if she files a civil lawsuit to seek compensation against all the financial, emotional and moral damages that she incurred, Dahi told Gulf News.