If you are a career oriented woman and place your work and home at equal comparatives, you must also be prepared to identify as well as fight sexual harassment at the workplace.
This does not necessarily mean that all women face it. However, in a full career, women come across various experiences as well as situations where they need to measure the volume of harassment and if needed, raise the alarm.
A harasser at your workplace could be anybody—any senior or junior colleague. However, it becomes most unbearable when the culprit is your boss—your reporting manager. This is because, they are the one who is ideally supposed to be the first authority for grievance redress for you.
Irrespective of the culture, sexual harassment of women at their workplace, particularly by a boss, is a common practice worldwide. However, it is seen more prominently in male dominant countries like India.
Definition of sexual harassment
Before preparing herself against the possibility of any such harassment, a women must need to understand the definition of sexual harassment. Even though the name suggests, sexual harassment is not restricted to unwanted physical advances of the harasser. In fact, physical harassment is an advanced stage of sexual harassment.
Any form of mental or physical violence against women or indiscrimination can be identified as sexual harassment. Unwelcome behavior like sexual remarks, touch, humiliation, undue promotions or demotions are some indicators of sexual harassment.
As women are often termed as the “human X-ray machines” (gauging ill-behavior), identifying harassment is a very difficult task for women.
Laws that protect women against sexual harassment
Internationally, the United Nations defines the laws for protection of women against sexual harassment and related laws under its General Recommendations 19. Besides, all countries have national laws as well as various national organizations that protect the rights of women. In a number of countries it has been made mandatory for all corporate as well as government working agencies and bodies to set up sexual harassment committees.
Behavior/ suggestions for woman to prevent harassment (especially from the boss)
Most aspirant women fall in the trap of dating their bosses when they are initially happy with their work. In order to protect her from future trouble, it is very important for a woman–not to date the boss.
You must ensure a disciplined behavior and send the message straight that the “you are not interested” the moment you get a signal from the boss.
Having cordial relations with other colleagues and building up the image of a social person always builds an impression that if needed, you may confide in more than one person. This will always indicate to the harasser that he is at risk of being ridiculed by others.
Guidelines to fight sexual harassment
It is crucial for women not to quit her job. The next step is to find out the policy of the employer. Pen down the complaint since a written word is always a matter or record and authenticity; keep reporting the incidents. It is often recommended that women should keep a diary for this purpose. Most importantly, do not be afraid of confronting the boss (harasser) if needed.
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