Sexual harassment at the workplace
Are you aware that about 81% of women and 43% of men have been sexually harassed in their lifetime? While most people shy away from this important topic, its negative impacts cannot be overemphasised, and that’s why you should go through the contents of this article!
Interestingly enough, many victims of this act didn’t even realise that they had been victims.
For the sake of clarity, I’ve come up with a definition that explains what sexual harassment is. It is any unwanted sexual attention or talks intended to impose sexual behaviour on someone, which involves unwelcome sexual demands, requests for sexual benefits, inappropriate comments, or jokes that can graduate to an advanced state of inappropriate touching and offensive comments. This could be a severe, even repeated pressure for the apparent purpose of obtaining an act of sexual nature. It can also occur if the action is not repeated.
It’s common in almost all places, including schools, public transportation, on the street, etc. Not to forget, your workplace is the most common place where these incidences occur.
Are you an employee, and you are a victim of repeated sexual comments or behaviour?
In the workplace, it violates an employee’s dignity because it creates offensive and hostile situations against him or her. For example, when an employee sends a message to her co-worker, offering not to report his absences in exchange for a sexual act.
Sexual harassment of women at the workplace is very common. You’ve probably heard about any young lady working in a firm and is constantly faced with sexual advances from her boss for a promotion. The form of harassment that involves a boss or employee asking for sexual favours from subordinates for some benefits like a pay rise or promotion is known as Quid Pro Quo.
Imagine a co-worker who continually comments every morning about his colleague’s cleavage. This example cannot be said to be Quid Pro Quo since it’s not coming from a boss. Hostile Work Environment Harassment involves making several comments about other people.
- Telling sexual stories or targeting sexual jokes at other people
- Touching or groping someone inappropriately.
- Creating images that have inappropriate connotations in them
- Making sexual insults or remarks about other people
I met a young lady who narrated to me how she lost motivation in her job. Being the only female in her workplace, her male colleagues would make sexual jokes and insults about her daily. This became even worse when she gave birth to her first child, as her co-workers talk about her body transformation and how her shape had changed. She thereafter decided to quit the job. Remember the last time you stumbled on or heard something that affected your life?
Indirect sexual harassment takes the form of harassment that is not directed to the victim. Hence, we call it indirect or secondary sexual harassment. For example, when a passer-by hears a sexual or dirty joke. The joke is not said directly to him, and he is not involved in the conversation; the person experiences this type of sexual harassment.
How common is sexual harassment in your workplace?
In a recently carried out survey, 75% of female victims said a male colleague harassed them, 49% and 10% claimed that a male customer and female colleagues respectively were their harassers.
Can we say that the feeling of being superior is responsible for this act? Well, Probably!
What are the effects of sexual harassment?
Students who are victims can suffer severe psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression, and academic failure. Teachers or lecturers could fail such a student if he or she resists their advances.
In workplaces, victims can also suffer psychological problems like depression, weight loss, absenteeism, reduced commitment, and deteriorating relationships. This could lead to a reduction in productivity and, if we do not take proper measures, complete closure of the firm.
Effective campaign and non-discrimination are the need of the hour! We should take the fight against this act seriously.