Opinion: It is time for women to take back their voice on sexual harassment

Posted by Madeline Head



“This behavior towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable.” A statement from Angelina Jolie about the alleged harassment she endured from Harvey Weinstein.

 

This is not the first and will probably not be the last time we hear about harassment or sexual assault in the media. Just recently, we learned of Kesha’s lawsuit against Dr. Luke claiming he had “sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally abused Ms. Sebert to the point where Ms. Sebert nearly lost her life”.

 

The American Association of University Women defines workplace sexual harassment as any, “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.”

 

This is an issue that is not discussed enough. In our world today, one in three women between the ages of 18-34 has been sexually harassed at work. “Sexual harassment hasn’t gone away – it’s just taken on new forms,” Michelle Ruiz and Lauren Ahn wrote.

 

Cosmo’s findings from a survey of 2,235 full-time and part-time female employees:

 

Different forms of sexual harassment:

  • 81% of Women Experience Harassment in Verbal Form
    • 44% say they’ve encountered unwanted touching and sexual advances
    • 25% say they’ve received lewd texts or emails

Who is sexually harassing?

  • 75% say they were targeted by male coworkers
  • 49% say they were harassed by male clients or customers
  • 38% say they were harassed by male managers
  • 10% say they were harassed by female coworkers
    • ** The results exceed 100 percent because some respondents have been harassed in multiple situations

Fields with the highest levels of reported sexual harassment:

  • 42% (Food/service)
  • 36% (Retail)
  • 31% (Stem)
  • 31% (Arts and entertainment)
  • 30% (Legal)

Do women report sexual harassment?

  • 29% did report it
  • 71% did not report it

Educated women aren’t protected from sexual harassment:

  • 45% have a bachelor’s degree
  • 29% have some college education
  • 19% have a graduate degree

Why is it that this is still such a prevalent problem in society but yet rarely talked about? Why do we accept this behavior as human beings?

 

Sexual harassment affects women on a daily basis. Imagine walking into work and being completely and utterly uncomfortable in that setting. Majority of these women feel uncomfortable reporting it. Many women suppress the experience. That is a devastating injustice. At what point do we say enough is enough?

 

“We’re at a point in time when women need to send a clear message that this is over,” Gwyneth Paltrow stated. “This way of treating women ends now.”

 

7 Steps To Take If You Have Been Sexually Harassed At Work:

 

  1. Confront the Harasser
    1. Let them know what they did was inappropriate.
  2. Tell Them To Stop!
    1. “Stop!” Say it loud enough for others to hear. Never apologize or make excuses for the offender.
  3. Document It or Report it Immediately
    1. If you feel in your best judgment you have handled things in steps one and two above at least document the date, time, place, what happened, your action, and the harasser’s response. If it ever happens again to you, or to someone else at work, you will have a history to refer to.
  4. Report It Immediately If Touching Is Involved
    1. Never let sexual touches or demands for sex go unreported. Touching in a sexual manner is sexual assault. Document the incident and immediately report it to management.
      1. “A sexual assault has been committed when an individual engages in sexual activity without the explicit consent of the other individual involved. Sexual activity is any touching of a sexual or other intimate part of a person for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire of either party. This includes coerced touching of the actor by the victim as well as the touching of the victim by the actor, whether directly or through clothing.” — Sarah Lawrence College
    2. Call the Police
      1. If you have been sexually assaulted you have the right to call the police and report it as a crime. Never let guilt or a desire to protect your attacker keep you from asserting your rights. You have done nothing wrong and someone who gets away with one instance may continue the harassment which could escalate into a more violation crime, like rape.
    3. Hire a Lawyer If You Have Been Harmed
      1. If you report sexual harassment and as a result, lose your job or are demoted, you may wish to contact a civil rights attorney. Or, if you report the incident to management and they do not take appropriate steps to investigate and stop harassment at work – call an attorney.
        1. Your rights to work in an environment free from sexual harassments are protected by federal laws. A good civil rights attorney can advise you if you have a case and what legal steps to take to sue your harasser or employer in civil court.
      2. Get Help – Find Support
        1. Victims often blame themselves in some way, or others may say a victim was “asking for it.” If you have been traumatized, consider joining a support group or get professional counseling. It helps some victims feel empowered again if the become proactive in an organization that seeks to end discrimination.
          1. National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline:
            1. 656.HOPE (4673) Call to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

 

 

Women all over the world, it is time to take back your voice. We demand justice, to be heard, and to be treated with respect and dignity. We are equals in every sense of the word and we shall be treated as such.



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