Sexual harassment is usually referred as unwelcome sexual advance from the opposite sex. Sexual harassment is very common in workplaces, and one of the prime reasons for a woman to leave her job midway. Usually in a workplace, the perpetrator can be the employer, the boss or fellow colleagues and even the clerical staff.
Sexual harassment in any form has a serious impact on your self-esteem, career, and your family. In the workplace, sexual harassment destroys productivity and professional relationships. There are many gestures, signs, verbal or non-verbal which can be referred as sexual harassment in workplaces even if these may not be sexual or physical in nature.
Let us find out below what constitutes sexual harassment at the workplaces:
Unfavorable Working Environment
The employer, co-worker, supervisor creates an environment that is difficult or uncomfortable for another person to work in. This can be in the form of inappropriate, repeated, and unwanted sexual advances, comments, or requests and can even be in the form of pictures, art, calendars or drawings on your work space that are distasteful to you.
Intimidation or Quid pro quo sexual harassment
In this form of sexual harassment, any person at your workplace, usually a senior colleague or your boss, intimidates you to submit to his sexual demand and in return, he promises you professional benefits like as promotion, salary increase, favorable performance reviews, easy work assignment, favorable place of posting etc. Incase if the victim refuses his sexual advances, then she may face demotion or termination, poor performance reviews, threats of job loss, less desirable shifts or unfavorable assignments and so on.
Flirting is another form of sexual harassment. Though, flirting can be a positive way of getting friendlier to a colleague, yet, in some instances, it can be a sexual harassment as well. Any form of unwelcome/unfriendly flirting is sexual harassment. And, here the victim should be able to differentiate between the two. When flirting becomes unwanted and persistent, it becomes a sexual harassment.
It is absolutely normal to have conversations on various topics at the workplace. You can also engage in healthy jokes. But, when jokes go too far in the form of sexist remarks, sexual jokes, especially by just one member in the entire group, it is a type of sexual harassment. You need to be careful when you are with such colleagues.
Special Work Assignments
You need to be very careful when your senior allocates you some special assignments when you need to travel with him or stay beyond normal working hours. This can be an outright sexual harassment, when your senior tries to take advantage of the situation of you being alone.
Positive or Negative Compliments or Comments
Any positive or negative comment for your dressing, for your looks or body can be a form of sexual harassment. Similarly, when you receive too much of compliments from the same person over and over again, this is also a sexual harassment as such compliments are made as a way of getting close to you.
You can make out you are physically harassed when your colleague or boss stands too close to you, try to put his hand on you or rub your back when you are at your desk etc. At times, the person may also force you an unwanted kiss or hug. In extreme cases, this can lead to sexual assault or rape.
Gifting for no particular reason
Giving and exchanging gifts in special occasions are very common at a workplace and there is nothing wrong in it. However, unexplained gifting for no particular reason, giving very expensive gifts, giving inappropriate gifts like as lingerie is actually a sign of sexual harassment.
Improper communication through online chats and messages
Any form of inappropriate communication (porn images, porn videos, vulgar messages, request for sex etc.) by your colleagues, boss, superiors through social media, chats, sms, phone constitute sexual harassment.