Sexual Harassment At Work: Why Is It Hushed?

Posted by Tamanna Sengupta in Sexism And Patriarchy, Society
January 23, 2017

Have you ever wondered why sexual harassment cases at workplaces are always hushed up? Here’s my theory.

If a woman is harassed at night, you can blame the fact that she was out at odd hours. When a woman who has been harassed is wearing shorts, you can blame her revealing clothes. When a woman is harassed while she’s at a club, you can blame her for drinking and getting inebriated. But, when a woman is harassed in her office, who do you blame? How do you blame a woman, who is at a respected nine to five job, dressed in formal work clothes, with no trace of alcohol whatsoever?

So, what’s the next best thing to do? Hush it up.

Many women in India feel unsafe at work. But, is the fear of being physically harassed, the only fear? No.

Harassment comes in many forms. In the working environment alone harassment includes lewd gestures, uncomfortable stares, unnecessary touching and even gender bias.

Women work in fear of working late hours. In fear of taking cab rides, bus rides and train rides home. They refrain from listing down their personal numbers in any forms and even stay conscious of not losing their temper at work, lest they end up hurting any male’s ego.

Now, changing an entire thought process at once is nearly impossible. You could start numerous campaigns, draft petitions, write articles and change your WhatsApp profile pictures. But that won’t change anything.

Change takes place gradually. And to change the statistics of women feeling unsafe at work, all that is needed at the moment, are simple changes:

  1. Employ female security guards and female cab drivers.
  2. Avoid your employees having to leave the premises for dinner by establishing a pantry.
  3. Provide every female employee with a list of emergency contacts.
  4. Conduct self-defence workshops and create forums for women to share their incidences.
  5. And, above all, establish policies so tough, that a potential harasser thinks twice before acting.

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Image source: danielfoster437 via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

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