SEXUAL HARRASSMENT- The hidden Truth!!!
“A player of Indian women’s hockey teams complaints of sexual harassment by the coach”
“A woman leaves her job, citing differences with management, when the actual reason was her senior’s constant unwanted touching.”
“An upcoming actress is asked for sexual favors in return of a significant role in the movies”
“A 14yr girl suddenly refused to attend school. Her behavior changed to irritable and violent. On psychiatric evaluation it was found that her class teacher had been kissing and fondling her for past 6months. He constantly threatened to fail her in exams if she spoke about it.”
“A man is pinched on the butt by her female boss, and a few days later asked to attend a party at her house. On the day, at the venue, he finds himself alone with his boss who is dressed in sexually provocative style. During the interaction she repeatedly forces herself onto him, he runs out of the apartment just to find himself fired from job next morning.”
These are common examples of the great social evil called “sexual harassment” that plagues our society. Sexual harassment is probably the most common crime committed thru the entire spectrum of social involvement. Every day thousands of men and women are sexually offended at hospitals, schools, corporate houses, offices, courtrooms, etc.
It also has the distinction to being one of the most neglected and concealed crimes within the society. I recently met with a few clients who had quit their jobs because of this evil. The most devastating part was that senior management who knew of what was going on, offered them “significant compensation” a.k.a “a monetary benefit or good remark on the appreciation card” to keep it secret and in some cases to even keep suffering it.
Family pressure, Management pressure, Social pressure, Religious pressure are some of the reasons that 99% of such crimes are never brought to light. Thou it can happen to both men and women. The society has a myopic view point when a man is involved and a crucifying one, when a woman is involved.
Hereby, let’s look at what the whole spectrum of sexual harassment compromises off.
What is sexual harassment?
Its commonly defined as intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature or the unwelcome or inapproriate promise of rewards in exchange of sexual favours.
The Supreme Court Guidelines on Sexual Harassment, 13 August 1997 has defined sexual harassment as unwelcome sexually determined behavior such as:
a. Physical contact
b. A demand or request for sexual favors
c. Sexually colored remarks
d. Showing pornography
e. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature
This definition has been further described in detail as following categories of sexual harrasment:
The verbal form of sexual harassment include any one or more of the following incidents:
1. Sexual or gender-based jokes or teasing or comments.
2. Comments about clothing, personal behavior, or a person's body.
3. Requesting for sexual favors.
4. Pressure for dates or meetings outside the professional boundaries.
5. Graphic descriptions of pornography.
6. Obscene phone calls.
7. Spreading rumors about a person's personal or sex life.
8. Turning work discussions to sexual topics (using "puns”).
The non-verbal forms of sexual harassment include any one or more of the following incidents:
1. Staring Sizing up a person’s body (looking up and down).
2. Derogatory gestures of a sexual nature.
3. Sexually suggestive looks- Facial expressions of a sexual nature; winking, licking lips.
This includes :
1. Unwelcome hugging or kissing.
2. Standing too close to or brushing up against another person, leaning over, invading a person's space without her/his permission.
3. Patting, stroking, grabbing or pinching someone.
4. Blocking someone's path with the purpose of making a sexual advance.
5. Actual or attempted sexual assault or forced fondling.
Visually sexual harassment is defined as:
1. Presence of posters, cartoons, drawings, calendars, pinups, pictures, computer programs of a sexual nature.
2. Notes or e-mail containing sexual comments
Sexual harassment is a very dangerous behavioral trait. The perpetuators of such a crime are normally using such behaviors to manifest one or more parts of a defect in their personality. They require immediate neuro-psychiatric help. If not helped and left untreated such menace of the society can go on to commit serious crimes like sexual molestations of minors, sexual perversions (inflicting physical pain to their sexual partners), date-rape, rape, or even murder.
The victims of such a sexual offence suffer with severe emotional and psychological damage. Keeping in mind that social, religious and moral teachings say that Privacy, modesty and sexuality are the most sacred traits in an individual’s personality. When an individual suddenly faces with unwanted intrusion into this personal space, the unconscious mind tries to retaliate. If the intrusion is persistent and the victim helpless to control it, it immediately leads the unconcious to dive into despair, hopelessness and worthlessness. This had devastating consequences on the self-esteem, which are manifested by severe medical problems like clinical depression, addictions, inappropriate sexual behavior and suicides.
How to fight Sexual Harassment?
1. If you know of anyone or any form of sexual harassment happening within your social limits, raise your voice against it.
2. Spread the knowledge about sexual harassment to all your friends and family.
3. Children should be educated to come and share about any awkward behavior by teachers or instructors. Children should be given confidence of parents standing by their side no matter what happens.
4. Children and Adults should be educated on healthy sexual practices, so they never develop such behaviors.
5. If you know anyone who has suffered such an atrocity, stand by that person. Give them support, and help them seek professional help if required so.
An educated society is the first step in fighting the evils of sexual harassments.
Dr.Hemant Mittal (MBBS, PGDPM)