Many indecent gestures and remarks at a workplace go by unnoticed. This is because people prefer not to make a big fuss about ‘little things’.
However, many women as silent as they may seem, go back home feeling violated. Wikipedia defines sexual harassment as; intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors.
The verbal or non verbal sexual harassment tends to push to worse levels whenever its ignored. The perpetrator may decide to go physical by pinching, caressing or kissing and in the worst case scenario, even rape the victim.
Many employees face this depraved act, but because their jobs are on the line, they will prefer to just shut up and let the whole matter pass by. When you try to inquire, most employers will deny because they prefer to protect the image of their companies instead of protecting their employees.
Worldwide, it’s estimated that over 50% of the women in employment are or have been subjected to sexual harassment of some form. It doesn’t just happen to women who work in large offices or those who work within a predominantly male working environment; it can happen to people in any occupation, to any age group and from every community.
Whereas women seem to be the biggest victims, many men also find themselves locked up in dangerous scenarios with their female bosses or coercive workmates, meaning that anyone can be a victim.
It is always advisable that if somebody at work says or does something that makes you uncomfortable, you look them in the eye and tell them very seriously never to do it again or else you take the matter further.
Usually, some people are even unaware that their gestures are causing discomfort to someone, so it’s best you let them know about how you feel.
However, the problem becomes intricate when an individual is sexually harassed by their employer. In Africa, being employed in a big organization is due to basically luck. It’s a luxury to think that one would quit their job and find another one paying equally well immediately.
This norm, coupled with a lack of significant workers’ unions in Africa has availed the predating employers a chance to abuse and sexually exploit their workers.
On top of that, when a victim reports to the authorities, it becomes extremely tough to avail evidence for sexual harassment. The perpetrator is fast to deny or report that he acted after being seduced, either way this makes the case longer and more complicated.
In this case, if an employee feels they can’t confront the harasser face to face, they might prefer to write to them to explain that their behavior is making them feel uncomfortable and that they want it to stop.
Then they should keep a copy of the letter and let them know that if their behavior persists, the matter will be taken further.
Alternatively, the violated employee may note down all the behavior that offends them, the dates, times and location where the behavior took place and if there were any other people present, keep a record of their names.
This becomes of good use when the employee wants to seek an official complaint.
The government should also see to it that job security is availed for employees who decide to go public about their menacing employees. Otherwise, this whole fight against sexual harassment would be detrimental to the employee without a protective government.