Sexual Harassment

When we hear the word Sexual Harassment what we picture in our mind a girl or a woman getting harassed by a man! But sexual harassment is not a narrow term which we can use only with respect to girls or women. It is a broader term which includes harassment on all the gender.

What is the meaning of Sexual harassment?

The word sexual harassment means any form of unwelcome sexual behavior which is offensive, humiliating and intimidating. According to EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) sexual harassment is defined as : Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when

  • Submission to such conducts is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of individual’s employment,
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or
  • Such conduct has the purpose os effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

Here, unwelcome does not mean “involuntary.” A victim may consent or agree to certain conduct and actively participate in it even though it is offensive and objectionable. Therefore, sexual conduct is unwelcome whenever the person subjected to it considers it unwelcome. Whether the person in fact welcomed a request for a date, sex-oriented comment, or joke depends on all the circumstances.    Source: Preventing Sexual Harassment (BNA Communications, Inc.) SDC IP .73 1992 manual

Types of Sexual Harassment

  1. Verbal or Written
  2. Non-verbal or Visual
  3. Physical

Verbal or Written

Here in the sense of sexual harassment verbal or written means saying, commenting, joking, or writing about someone in vulgar manner. We have often see on the road boys are shouting out to girls using words like doll, babe etc. Yes, this is also sexual harassing and that’s why it is called verbal. Following are some more examples:-

  • Referring someone using inappropriate or vulgar language.
  • Whistling at someone in an unwanted manner.
  • Making sexual comments on someone’s body
  • Making kissing sounds.
  • Repeatedly asking out someone who is not interested.
  • Spreading rumors about a person’s personal life.
  • Texting someone offensive joke.

Early these were very trivial matter on the roads and  now-a-days it can be widely and easily seen on social media.

Non-verbal or visual

Well, this is the most trivial and probably the hardest to spot because it’s most subjective and one have to put in the shoes of the other person. For example:-

  • Looking a person with elevator eyes (up & down).
  • Staring at someone.
  • Following someone.
  • Making sexual gestures with hands or trough body movements.
  • Making facial expressions such as winking, throwing kisses etc.

Physical

It seems that this is very easy to recognize but it is also too complex. Many time people get confused about physical touch. Here are some examples:-

  • Touching someone sexually around other people.
  • Hugging, kissing , stroking.
  • Actual or attempted rape.
  • Touching someone’s clothing, hair, or bodily assault.

Now-a-days sexual harassment is very common in workplaces and even in educational institutions. Cases about these things can be seen frequently. For example recently in Calicut University an Mphil student leveled sexual harassment charges against an assistant professor, Haris Kodampuzha from English department. As per complaint, he used to send sensual message to the student and for this he was suspended.

There are laws all over world which protects people from sexual harassment. In there is The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal ) Act, 2013that seeks to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work. The Act came into force from 9 December 2013. In India, the legislations talk only about sexual harassment and rape of women. Then the question is who will protect men from harassments. There is no law to shield males from the bloodthirsty act of harassment and rape. Under Indian law, there is only one section 377 of Indian Penal Code which talks about “sodomy”. 377.  it is written that “Unnatural offences: Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.” Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section. Except this all other laws and sections are meant only for females.

While the sexual harassment of females has consistently declined in the past few years as government has made some very effective legislations in India. But sexual harassment of men is increasing day by day. Hence it is important to demand equal accesses  to justice for both males as well as females. For this the legislation of government has to make laws which protect the male from various kinds of harassments and assaults at different areas. There is also a need to educate and aware people especially children and students about sexual harassment. So if they suffer from any such act then they will be able to approach to any authority or any elder person rather than suffering.