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I. What is sexual harassment in the workplace? Any kind of objectionable behaviour towards women at the workplace is deemed as sexual harassment. For e.g.• • • • • •
Unwelcome sexually determined behaviour (directly or by implication). Physical contact and advances. A demand or request for sexual favours. Remarks with sexual connotations. Showing pornography. Any other unwelcome, verbal or non-verbal way of conduct of physical nature.
II Different types of sexual harassment There are two types of sexual harassment at workplace• •
Quid-pro-quo Hostile environment.
a) Quid-pro-quo- This is when the employer makes sex a pre- requisite to getting something in the workplace. For example- saying" If you sleep with me then your work will be done". This can affect the career path of the employee. Specific examples of quid pro quo harassment include: 1. requiring submission to a supervisor's request for sexual favours as a condition of continued employment 2. granting specific job benefits such as a salary increase or promotion in exchange for sexual favours 3. Withholding job benefits, such as a wage increase or promotion, or assigning more arduous tasks to an employee who has rejected a supervisor's request for sexual favours. A refusal to hire a job applicant or outright termination of employment would, of course, be actionable in this context. B) Hostile environment- This is an environment where an employer (a superior or a colleague) does or says things that are uncomfortable and offensive to her as an individual. Sexual harassment does not need to include a demand for an exchange of sex for a job benefit. It is the creation of an uncomfortable environment. If two employees are sharing sexual jokes and both of them are enjoying it then it may not be termed as sexual harassment. But, if one of the two desires to terminate the relationship, and the other uses the unequal relative terms and conditions of employment of the work place to further the
Complied by Dr. Meena Galliara with the help of secondary literature & discussions with lawyers, women executives and feminist groups.
comments or slurs.. d. • • • . posters or signs. lewd gestures. movement or any physical interference with normal work or movement.relationship. cartoons or drawings. and are not limited to some of the examples given below: a.. b. Acts from male to female.g. Verbal behaviour which is sexual in nature and unwelcome. context of the situation and how the person has been affected by it. Taking a transfer.i.g. calendars.g. Resigning the job of her own will which actually gives rise to lots more problems in here personal life and career. leering. poems. faxes. this would be sexual harassment. visible or verbal. impending or blocking. pinching. Physical conduct which is sexual nature and unwelcome. patting. The most important aspect of workplace sexual harassment is of how the person takes it. jokes. The conduct can be unwelcome even if the employee does not specifically demand that the conduct stop. an employee and his client. female to male and between or among individuals of the same sex which are sexual in nature and unwelcome sexual harassment may be directed against a particular person.. persons or group. pictures.g. sexual advances such as touching. Some of the commonly faced consequences are: • Being forced to resign or fired by the company just because the ‘man’ who harassed her happens to be a higher official with lots of influence and value. e-mail and computer programs. Visuals which are sexual in nature e. if she is mentally affected because of an act which actually would not be so serious in nature it still would be called sexual harassment. Accepting it and silently enduring it ultimately leading to poor performance and bad results or contemplating/attempting/committing suicide.. e. e. e. which are unwelcome. This kind of work environment can affect the performance of the employee. The determination of whether a particular act is sexual harassment or not depends on the specific facts. So it is all to say of how she sees the situation. letters. Sexual harassment can be possible between two co-workers of the same or different sex. Non-verbal behaviour which is sexual in nature and unwelcome.epithets. assaults. staring. Examples of sexual harassment could include various behaviours.e.. graffiti. III) How does it affect a woman’s career? Sexual harassment impinges on the woman’s right to work because it creates a hostile environment in which she cannot function to her full potential and may be forced to leave her job. c. For e. repeated requests for dates. It can be physical.
It is an abuse of power using sexual behaviour as the vehicle. sexual orientation and disability. REALITY. VI) Myths and realities of sexual harassment Following is a list of myths and their corresponding realities. Myths about sexual harassment deny the harmful nature of its conduct. which is to achieve power and control over the person harassed. Many are forced to quit their jobs or take sick leave to escape from the harassment. Filing a case against the perpetrator. but all of his or her co-workers are harmed either by the pervasive feeling that one cannot get ahead in the workplace without giving sexual favours or by creating an environment where co-workers are forced to tolerate offensive conduct and their work suffers. This keeps a great majority of both men and women from directly confronting the harasser. Giving him or her less desirable work assignments. . Not only is the individual harmed. • • • • • • Ignoring the perpetrator. MYTH -Sexual harassment is simply an expression of sexual desire. race. Suspension or dismissal.Sexual harassment is an expression of hostility and aggression. Many individuals who experience sexual harassment suffer physically and psychologically from harassment. Giving a negative performance review. who is either a boss or a colleague.IV) Repercussions on the perpetrator Sometimes the perpetrator may not escape easily and not in all cases do they get away. V) Why is sexual harassment such a problem? Sexual harassment is an issue that affects all of us at the workplace. when it occurs. They shift the blame to the victim and obscure the motivation of the harasser. Reported sexual harassment greatly underrepresents the extent of the difficulty because most individuals are afraid to report the harassment. Once a report has been made to the higher authorities about such a person in workplace it may result in the change of behaviour by the colleagues towards the person. The very fear of retaliation or being labelled a troublemaker keeps many individuals from reporting such an incident. Myths about sexual harassment are based on prevailing attitudes and stereotypes about sex. Sabotage of tools/materials. Added to it is the fear of offending the harasser. sexuality and other compounding factors such as age.
just as women are. it will stop. simply ignoring sexual harassment will not stop it. academic and all ethnic and religious groups. judgement. among businesses. women can harass other women and men can harass other men. behaviour. unwanted and unwelcome physical gestures such as hugging. and ethnic and racial group to ethnic and racial group. MYTH.The harasser is always responsible for having committed the harassment regardless of an individual's appearance. community-to-community. It is not done in jest or "good fun". if they exist.MYTH. It is unwelcome sexual behaviour or attention regardless of who is perpetrating. but not always. it is done to intimidate and hurt others. MYTH-There is a profile of a typical harasser. Those who sexually harass are not distinguishable from their colleagues who do not harass with respect to gender. REALITY -Family and social interactions differ from individual to individual. All people have a right to be treated professionally with respect. job title. age. it's all done in "good fun.If you ignore sexual harassment. decency and consideration. MYTH. rank.Sexual harassment is abusive.Generally. MYTH. Many report that when they directly tell the harasser to stop. REALITY. at all organizational levels. pinching. should be enforced for both sexes. Professional dress codes. REALITY. nothing is meant by this.Men are capable of and responsible for controlling their behaviour and acting professional in workplaces and educational institutions. Also. rather. MYTH Only men can sexually harass women. or brushing up against a person's body may be forms of sexual harassment. Ignoring such behaviour may be taken as a sign of encouragement or tacit consent.Some people just interact in a physical way and are accustomed to touching others. REALITY. Everyone must conform to the law. the harassment often. . However.Harassers are found in all types of occupations. As such. ends.Men can't help themselves when they are sexually aroused." REALITY. attention or behaviours of a sexual nature. it may be difficult for an individual man to recognize his discomfort in these situations or to vocalize this discomfort. marital status. or previous actions. or who is the target of the behaviour. MYTH -People who dress in a sexually attractive manner are asking for sexual comments.It's no big deal if a person is harassed. REALITY. Many times men may not realize that they are sexually harassed because society has unwritten rules that men are supposed to enjoy conversations. REALITY Both men and women may be targets or perpetrators of sexual harassment. occupation or national origin.
. and be specific." Date and sign the letter. head up. Objecting to harassment is a matter of principle. Hold the harasser accountable for his actions." If this does not work. The abusers behaviour is the issue. no insults. shoulders back. tell your HR person in your organisation. Take charge of the encounter and let people know what he did. and to respond appropriately when it does occur. For example. but visibility undermines them. VIII) If you have decided to go ahead… If you are serious about lodging a complaint. Try to be as clear as possible. say it. You can start with telling the person involved to stop the behaviour. 2. Say what you have to say. Do the unexpected: Name the behaviour. submissive body language will undermine your message. please do not do this. REALITY . I consider these to be sexual harassment and I will file a complaint if you continue to tell them to me. and repeat it if he persists. Don't smile. Don't make excuses for him. 8. "I find your sexual jokes offensive. Make honest. Privacy protects harassers. and blunt. 6. Strong policies and effective procedures articulated by the head of an organization or institution that are communicated to and understood by all employees are critical for prevention VII) What can you do if you are sexually harassed? Firstly you have to decide what action plan works for yourself. 3. straightforward. Speak the truth (no threats. no appeasing verbal fluff and padding). keep a copy and have a witness watch you give it the offender. a strong. If the problem is getting serious try confiding in one of your colleagues and together bring the matter to the attention of the higher authorities in the organisation. Whatever he's just done. Be serious. you should consider putting it in writing. Make it clear that all women have the right to be free from sexual harassment. "It makes me uncomfortable when you rub my shoulders. If none of the above works. Demand that the harassment stop. 5. serious stance. direct statements. and tell the person what conduct you find offensive and what action you will take if it continues. Don't respond to the harasser's excuses or diversionary tactics. there are many steps that can be taken to prevent sexual harassment. no obscenities. self-respecting body language: eye contact.MYTH -There is nothing that can be done about sexual harassment. 4. Stick to your own agenda. Reinforce your statements with strong. don't pretend it didn't really happen. 7. For instance. take these tips given here: 1.On the contrary. Timid. Check to see your organisation has any informal complaint resolution process.
IX) Complaint mechanism A solution for resolving such cases within the organisation would be to set up an appropriate complaint mechanism. When working for a case the committee members should see to it that it is handled confidentially and within a time bound framework. The committee is to be headed by a woman b. . The guidelines charted out for the committee are: a. a special counsellor and other support services for handling complaints. Half of the members in the committee should be women. Use a combined verbal and physical response to physical harassment. c. d. the committee should set a third party representative from an NGO or anybody conversant with the issue.9. Respond at the appropriate level. The court has recommended provision for a complaint committee. To prevent undue pressure from within the organisation.
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