The Equality Act of 2010 defines sexual harassment as an unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating someone else’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. Wikipedia defines it as the type of harassment technique that relates to a sexual nature and the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favours. It includes a range of actions from mild transgressions to sexual abuse or assault. It's defined by reachout.com as an unwelcome sexual behaviour that’s offensive, humiliating or intimidating. It can be written, verbal or physical, and can happen in person or online.
Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Centre defines Sexual Harassment as an unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when either the conduct is made as a term or condition of an individual's employment, education, living environment or participation in a University community. The acceptance or refusal of such conduct is used as the basis or a factor in decisions affecting an individual's employment, education, living environment, or participation in a University community or the conduct unreasonably impacts an individual's employment or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for that individual's employment, education, living environment, or participation in a University community. It is an unwanted sexual statement, an unwanted physical or sexual advances and unwanted personal attention.
From the above definitions, it's established that it's an intentional and a behavioural act. It's seen as a norm because there's no justification for it. It is unwanted sexual statements when you crack sexual or “dirty” jokes, comment on the physical attributes of the harassed person. That is, you, the harasser just see someone and start commenting negatively or sarcastically about their physical appearance or characteristics. It is spreading rumors about someone else's sexual activity; ranking others based on their sexual performance; questioning you about your sex life; discussing someone else's sexual activity with people, friends and the likes or it's the display or distribution of sexually explicit images, drawings or written materials of someone, their sexual activity and the likes. This can be carried out in person, writing, electronic means which can be mails, blogs and the likes.
It's physical or sexual advances when the harasser kisses, fondles, ogles, leers and stares at you, makes sexual gestures or movement towards you, indecently exposes themselves just to get your attention, hugs or sexually assault the other person without their consent or they are made to touch themselves for others to see. It is unwanted personal attention when the harasser keeps sending letters, calling, visiting, insulting you with sexual comments, pressurising for sexual favours, pressurising for unnecessary personal interaction and pressurising for dates where a sexual/romantic intent appears obvious but remains unwanted.
It's important to know that anybody can be a victim of sexual harassment but it's more important to know that girls and women are victims of it. When you have been harassed to the point that you feel humiliated, pained, scared or intimidated, then you have been sexually assaulted. Sexual assault comes in when you feel humiliated and intimidated.
How do you know you are harassed? You are sexually harassed when you feel low of your self or lack confidence whenever you walk pass a place where the harassment occurs, are with the harasser or just alone; feel stressed, anxious or depressed. When you withdraw from social situations because of someone or what they told you regarding your physical attributes or appearance, it shows you have being harassed or are a victim of sexual harassment. You are not an exception when you are less productive, concentrate less or suffer from aches like headaches, back aches and the likes.
Hostile environment sexual harassment occurs when unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive working or learning environment or is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it affects a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from a University program or activity according to Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Centre.
Quid pro quo is a type of sexual harassment that occurs in the workplace or a learning environment. It's stated or implied that the progress of the employee in the workplace or school is dependent on how cooperative they are to the conduct of the sexual nature. For example, as a student, before you can pass a course, you must have submitted to the sexual advances of the lecturer. Also, it states that before you can join an association, organisation in your school or get promoted in your place of work, you must have submitted to the conduct of the sexual nature.
I know of a school who believes sexual harassment is normal and should be normal in schools. I'd use it as a case study to address sexual harassment in schools in my next blog post. Thanks for following.