MARILYN ANONA WRITES: Women are much more likely to be victims of sexual harassment precisely because they more often than men lack power.

Why do some superiors bully their subjects? Bosses or employers intimidate their staff/employees, because they feel they have the power to terminate their employment or the power to deny them of what they rightfully merit or deserve. Sexual harassment is such an ugly trend. Its an enemy to productivity and excellence. Sadly it occurs everywhere and every time, such that when one is complaining, some people just stare at the person as if he or she is saying something ridiculous because most people have accepted it as normal, backing it up with this *USE WHAT YOU HAVE TO GET WHAT YOU WANT* so sad and very disturbing. A young girl sees an advert, applies for a job, writes the necessary test, passes through the interview, resumes work very happy with the new job, only to start getting harassed by the employer one week into the job. If the girl accepts and sleeps with the employer, no one will ever know but its not even a guarantee that her job is secure as the man can still lay her off afterwards to employ another lady having the same motive in mind. If the lady refuses, the employer keeps bullying her till she quits all by herself or is sacked. Why? What is the meaning of this? Why must it be going on and on? The problem of sexual harassment is increasingly *coming out of the closet*. Companies are starting to realize that the problem is real, some managers are admitting that it could affect their staff, and more victims are starting to gather the courage to complain. Yet most people do not fully understand the problem, its causes, its consequences, or its extent. Even more difficult is the question: How does one deal with such behaviour? Before considering the causes and consequences of, and possible cures for, this deep-rooted problem, we shall have to define it as some folks may not clearly understand what sexual harassment means, Sexual harassment is bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favours. And it happens everywhere, workplaces, everywhere. It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include *sexual harassment* or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Anybody can be harassed sexually. A man can harass a fellow man, A woman can harass a woman, A woman can harass a man but studies have shown that, Women are much more likely to be victims of sexual harassment precisely because they more often than men lack power, are in more vulnerable and insecure positions, lack self confidence, or have been socialized to suffer in silence. 98% of the reported cases of sexual harassment related to men harassing women at work or in work-associated situations. Therefore, although all kinds of sexual harassment and even non-sexual harassment should be stopped, the focus in this discussion will be the most prevalent kind, of men harassing women. Sexual harassment in the workplace is unwelcome or unwanted attention of a sexual nature from someone at work, that causes discomfort, humiliation, offense or distress, and / or interferes with the job. This includes all such actions and practices of a sexual nature by a person or a group of people directed at one or more workers.

Sexual harassment can consist of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours in return for employment benefits, pressure for sexual favours to clinch sales deals, the display of sexually offensive posters, cartoons or drawings, or any other form of verbal or physical behaviour that the recipient regards as unwelcome or embarrassing.

 

Any of the examples above may represent harassment. In all cases it is the consequences, and not the intentions, that count. The severity of the harassment is to a large extent determined by the impact it has on the victim. So “It was just a joke” or “I had too much to drink” is no excuse. Harassment usually relates to intimidation, exploitation and power; not to real, mutual personal attraction and respect.

 

Thus a relationship between two consenting adults would usually not be harassment. Yet if the one party has far more power than the other, and abuses this in the work situation to coerce the other, it could still be a case of harassment. If unwelcome attentions are repeated although they have been declined, or if the person is victimized because of having turned down such advances, the situation becomes worse. So my question today is, having realized that Sexual harassment is becoming worse in our society, how do we put it to an end. The Lagos state government has made it a crime. So if you are lucky to be residing in lagos, you can go to the authority and lay your complaints. My advice to anyone passing through any form of sexual harassment is not to keep quiet. Let’s hear you, talk to someone. There are lawyers everywhere. Don’t fall prey. Let your voice be heard and let’s collectively fight this war against sexual harassment in workplaces. Be Inspired! Be Motivated!! Be Enlightened!!!
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5 comments

  1. When u just think the only problem women are facing @their work place is ‘Glass Ceilings’ u see them being marginalised continuously.Sexual harassment is everywhere.Smh.Our HR department are not making it easy.How can they help? when the same department is full with men.Just don’t tell me that its a man’s world.Nice one Oma.

    • Thanks very much Macoy. The Human Resource department isn’t working like you rightly said but we can make it work if we want to.

  2. Amazing job Marilyn, you have said it all. It should be reported, yes at first it might be hard and quite embarassing to say but it has to be said all the way.

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