- Written by Angela Upreti
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Ofcourse, you must have experienced a bunch of hooligans by the road passing loud comments when you walk past them –not at all an uncommon thing in cacophonous Kathmandu especially. Habitually, a protective part of your brain intimidates you from protesting, even though you are troubled and anguished by these comments. No problem, “I’ll take another way home tomorrow.” is what you usually tell yourself. However, what if you get sexually harassed at work? Two options: Either fight it or live with it! Do not work out your conscience a lot to choose between the two. You wish for equalization of genders, and all of you have will, wisdom and a cause. Don’t you? Therefore, pretending that no labyrinth exists is not a solution to your problem. Trying to live with it is even worse. Can’t you make the muddle totally nonexistent? Remember, you are a phenomenal woman, totally capable of everything.
What we might actually consider to be the limit of sexual harassment might be subjective as different circumstances can arouse different levels of discomforts among us in a sense that all of us are unique and have a huge blend of our individuality in our thoughts. Anyway, here is the legal definition: Sexual harassment is “unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive and affects working conditions or creates a hostile work environment. Sexual harassment at work may involve but not limit to:
- Unwanted jokes, gestures, offensive words on clothing, and unwelcome comments and repartee.
- Touching and any other bodily contact such as scuffing or patting a coworker's back, grabbing an employee around the waist, or interfering with an employee's ability to move.
- Repeated requests for dates that are turned down or unwanted flirting.
- Transmitting or posting emails or pictures of a sexual or other harassment-related nature.
- Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, or posters.
- Playing sexually suggestive music
It is an observed fact that sexual harassment might be extremely derogatory for the victims in a sense that it explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. In addition, when a large percentage of female working populations have become sexually abused, the problem far surpasses from being an individual concern. It might threaten the entire economy of a nation because it might be a reason for low productivity among the population that comprises of a significant part of work force that is women. In an attempt to aid working women plus the entire nation, we have come up with some tips which might be of help to women for fighting sexual harassment which they face at work. Here is the list:
What can you do if you are sexually harassed?
- Make your discomfort evident.
Sometimes the deemed convict might be unknown to your discomfort. It may not be his intention to harass you. If you feel inept then do not just laugh the happenings off. Even if an act of harassment is a deliberate one, making known your discomfort might be a huge self-help.
- Ignore if the harasser is a mere attention seeker.
Try ignoring a few times. If the harasser is just trying to get your attention or intimidate you, he might give up, seeing that you do not give your attention at all. Harasser might be just seeking for personal pleasure which he expects to get out of hurting you. Give him none.
- Gather evidences.
Keep record of the dates on which specific acts of harassments occurred. Gather witnesses. Record voices and videos. Keep proof to support your claim of harassment so that you have something to back you up incase, you have to take the case to the court.
- Protest if you feel safe!
If you are in a safe work environment, why not to do a favor for yourself .Tell the harasser what you do not like. Make the harasser aware of the steps you might take and their possible consequences.
- Seek support of the Union
If you are a member of a union, bring this matter up repeatedly during the meetings. Make sure something is done against it.
- Threaten him when surrounded by friends
If you are in a group threaten the harasser right there. Don’t be scared to act impulsively because your friends will be there to support you.
- Try to embarrass the harasser in public.
If somebody at work touches you repeatedly, may it be by patting or pinching, try asking him loudly to remove the hand. Make sure other people near you catch you. This might embarrass the harasser and change his opinion on you if he had initially thought of you as a submissive personality.
- Go to the higher authority at work.
Report the sexual harassment to the manager, employer or any other authority that has the power to stop it, probably someone senior to the harasser. Harasser might value their reprimand in fear of the loss of job.
- Act against the harasser in a group.
Try talking to other ladies about the harasser. Ask them if they have the same problem. If all of you have been harassed by the same person at some point, you can go to the higher authority together. Being in group might help you if you are not comfortable with the idea of complaining alone.
- Go to the police if it is severe.
Prevention is better than cure .If you feel very unsafe in the presence of the harasser and fear the occurrence of severe form of harassment i.e. rape, going to the police is the best option. Take every step to protect yourself.
We hope these tips will be of good use to all you women. Even if you are male counterparts, share these tips with women who need them. Let’s fight sexual harassment at work, united!