Have you ever came across an annoying male co-worker who enjoys telling dirty jokes about women’s sexuality? Or have you ever caught your supervisor flirting with you in a lecherous way? Be careful! You might be the next victim of sexual harassment.
Almost everyone knows that any form of sexual harassment is illegal in the workplace. But do they know what it really means? Unfortunately, no. Despite various laws and policies issued to prevent such indecent behaviours at work, sexual harassment remains prevailing within the working environment. What makes it worse, women often fall victims because of poor understanding of sexual abuse.
Women’s participation in the economic sector is fundamental to support their empowerment and sustainability. Ever since the birth of women movement in the 19th century, women have been actively taking part of the global workforce. From 1980 to 2008, research conducted by PwC notes that women make up 552 million of global workforce. It is expected that more than a billion women will enter the workforce over the decade.
With growing number of women joining the labour force, gender diversity at the workplace becomes inevitable. However, being in a male-dominated territory, women in the workplace become minority group. Problems such as sexual harassment continues to occur and discourages women to elevate their career. No wonder that sexual abuse issue has emerged as global concern, including Asia Pacific.
According to a United Nation paper, 53 percent female employees in Nepal reported that they have faced problem of sexual harassment at the workplace. Similarly, more than 60 percent female employees in Japan revealed that they are subject to sexually harassment, while 45 percent are subjected to hostile working environment.
Broadly defined, sexual harassment usually involves unwanted physical contact or verbal abuse, such as sexist jokes and comments, sexual threat and intimidation, unwelcome sexual advance, sexual innuendo, or public humiliation. Even subtle conducts related to sexual stuffs, if they make you feel uncomfortable, you can file a sexual harassment claim to the perpetrators.Then how do you save yourself, and maybe other fellow women, from sexual harassment?
Harassers often target and attack those who look weaker. In order to prevent any bad misconducts, you have to gain strength and be confident. When you face some unpleasant attitudes from other male employees, don’t show your weakness. Even when you feel intimated and maybe frightened, you have to fight back and say no with all your power.
Sometimes, severe sexual harassment begins with trivial things such as jokes. While it might seem harmless at first, you should be cautious. Don’t let it just pass. When your supervisor says something like, ‘Haha, maybe you need to sleep with me if you want to keep your job,’ be extra-careful. It should send a red signal that might lead to more serious conducts. If such a thing happens to you, you should speak up and report such incidents to the senior business heads or the HR manager.
Respect yourself first
If you want other people to respect you, first you need to respect yourself. It means that you should maintain a professional image. Wear something decent and professional at work. Don’t let your male co-workers peek at your revealed cleavage. While you might not intend to, just try not to create any sexual temptation.
Get back-up supporter
Do not let your guard down. When you work in a place predominantly filled with men such as those from STEM, you should keep yourself surrounded with colleagues you trust. This way, you can control your social circle and prevent any unwelcome advances from unfamiliar people.
As more women are seeking careers outside their home, business leaders should take immediate action to curb and control sexual harassment issues. Leaders should find a method to create a safe, healthy, and woman-friendly working environment.