Sexual harassment at the workplace is a definite thing on all over the world but women are forced not to report it to the concerned authority by various means like threat to personal life, maligning reputation, vindictive action and even stigma and isolation. The issue has been so trivialized in the male mindset that the perpetrators do not think about the effect it has on the victim physically or psychologically. Given below is a clear list of Myths V/S Facts about sexual harassment:
Myth 1: Women enjoy eve-teasing \sexual harassment.
Fact: Eve-teasing \sexual harassment is humiliating, intimidating, painful and frightening.
Myth 2: Eve – teasing is harmless flirting. Women who object have no sense of humor.
Fact: Behavior that is unwelcome cannot be considered harmless or funny. Sexual harassment is defined by its impact on the woman rather than the intent of the perpetrator.
Myth 3: Women ask forSexual Harassment at Workplace; only women who are provocatively dressed are sexually harassed.
Fact: This is the classic way of shifting blame from the harasser to the victim. Women have the right to act, dress and move around freely without the threat of attack of harassment.
The most popular slogan of thewomen‘s rights of the past three decades has been:
However we dress, wherever we go
‘Yes’ means ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ means ‘No’.
Myth 4: Women who say ‘NO’ actually mean ‘YES’.
Fact: This is a common myth used by men to justify sexual aggression and one-sided sexual advances.
Myth 5: Sexual harassment is not really an issue. It doesn’t hurt anyone.
Fact: Persons subjected to sexual harassment experience a wide range of physical and psychological ailments. There are economic consequences for the victim’s physical and mental wellbeing, and the organization’s productivity, efficiency and work ethics.
Myth 6: Sexual harassment is ‘natural’ male behavior. Man is hunter and woman the prey.
Fact: Men are not born knowing how to sexually harass others. It’s learned within the context of a sexist and patriarchal environment that perpetuates control over women‘s sexuality, fertility and labor.
Myth 7: Women keep quiet. That means they like it.
Fact: Women keep quiet to avoid the stigma attached and retaliation from the harasser. Women are afraid that they will be accused of provoking it, of being victimized, of being called liars and made the subject of gossip.
Myth 8: If women go to places where they are not welcome, they should expect sexual harassment.
Fact: Discriminator behavior and abuse is unlawful. Women have equal access to all work facilities. A safe work place is a woman’s legal right.
We can stop sexual harassment at workplace by empowering women with the steps that they can take in case they feel unsecure as well by educating the male populace to treat women with their merit and now by their looks or body type. In a society where more and more women are coming to the mainstream jobs and professions, it is the least we can do to let them breathe easy and enjoy their work and responsibility they hold.
(The writer is a social activist and lawyer and a former member of Odisha Women’s Commission.)