Sexual Harassment towards Women at Work: Potential Solutions
Sexual harassment towards women is a menace in the society and an issue that women have been tormented with for many years. This is because of male chauvinism and gender inequality that has made the society to adopt the view that sexual harassment is something normal and a representation of society’s daily life.
It is also something that has created a social, economic and cultural environment that considers women the minority group in communities where their rights can be trampled upon and perpetrators go uncharged or face little consequence.
- Lack of women’s empowerment
- Emotional imbalance
- Economic instability and
- Social ineptitude
Are some of the factors that have made many sexual harassment cases against women left ignored and perpetrators are not punished. It is a scenario that is quite prevalent in the work stations or workplace where women work with their male colleagues.
The multitude of issues affecting women subjected to sexual harassment has calamitous consequences. It affects their physique, health as well as their productivity and effectiveness at place of work. Sexual harassment leads to physical, emotional and psychological abuse of a woman because she feels deprived of her self-esteem and dignity and just a sexual object that is just there for male enjoyment, as opposed to someone who can make a lot of changes at place of work or in the society.
This depicts the intensity of burden that women have to go through when exposed to sexual harassment, something that is in infringement and in contravention of their freedom, rights and civil liberties. Due to unjust treatment of women, it is therefore essential that different policies, measures and the right strategies are created, evaluated and employed to protect the rights of women.
Achieving the objective however calls for active participation of relevant parties including men, women, civil rights bodies, governments and employment companies. This will help to enhance the implementation of the process and to ensure it is successful because with the support of all parties, maximum cooperation will be achieved.
It will also act as an evaluation strategy to ensure relevant policies and measures suggested are implemented by developed mechanisms and all parties to hold anyone accountable or to punish anyone for contravening the strategies.
There are also different solutions that can be employed by individuals to ensure the laws and policies are formulated to help curb sexual harassment in the workplace. However, according to Baker, it is imperative to begin by identifying different types of sexual harassment in the workplace. Baker also classifies sexual harassment types based on their methodologies of provision which are emotional, verbal physical or psychological.
Choudhury believes that various types of sexual harassment could be essential in formulation of measures and a policy for managing the vice also supports the same perception. This is significant because assessing solutions to sexual harassment can be termed as research problem that needs to be solved. As per research, its beginning is characterized with problem identification, classification and breakdown of the problems subsets.
Baker and Choudhury using this analogy identified subsets of the problem as verbal, emotional, psychological and physical sexual harassment of women. This will also act as a platform for measures, creating and policies that will cater for each problem subset.
The use of hierarchical structure is one of the major causes of sexual harassment at place of work. This has resulted in men being primary holders of top management positions. It also means that women who are employed under them are inhumanly treated or are being oppressed.
Male managers for example punish their female workers who may have made mistakes by seeking sexual favors. Lack of jobs according to Mahila, in Nepal has led to intensive competition for available jobs. This has also led to sexual harassment of women by their counterparts who ask for sexual favors for them to get jobs.
Michele and Parker also support the scenario in their study of Indonesian employment where there is abundance of labor and has made many women to endure sexual abuse to get jobs. Even so, the situation can be resolved by embracing intuitive measures. According to Gregory, gender bias can also be resolved by tackling sexual harassment issues as well as its roots.
It is however applicable by ensuring the hierarchical structure of a company not only includes men in high position. Additionally, inclusion of women in such a position will reduce or prevent sexual harassment cases especially because the woman has experienced sexual harassment and as a victim, it creates an ideal atmosphere for their rights are expected.
Including women in top company management will also ensure that trading sexual favors at place of job or for promotion purposes are prevented. The other strategy that can be utilized is training and education of women as well as undergraduate female students who are preparing for employment in the informal sector or in their career fields.
Girl child education according to Mahila is one of the most important strategies that will help reduce cases of sexual harassment. This is because in countries such as Nepal, low women economic status in the society need to adhere to needs of men in the workplace in an effort to get jobs. This also occurs because of cultural gender biasness present in the society, can be alleviated through child education on their freedoms and rights to ensure cases of gender bias are managed even before they occur.
This also economically empowers women because they could start careers in a way that brings out their independence and releases them from perverse sexual advances from men as well as abuses. Paludi and Barickman suggests that one of the strategies for reducing sexual harassment at place or work is ensuring undergraduate female students are well educated on challenges of the workplace.
Such a strategy will help create self-awareness to ensure a woman is always in a position to resist male chauvinism. This will also help them learn of their rights and the fact that sexual harassment at place of work is illegal and amounts to criminal offense with dire consequences because it is a measure of promoting gender equality.
Paludi and Barickman also suggest that another method to solve sexual harassment in the workplace in the workplace is engagement management in education on the ethics of workplace. This will also enlighten women on unfair sexual practices, possible punishments and its practices. Such enlightenment ensures that management adheres to code of ethics when handling their employees’ especially female employees.
Paludi and Barickman also believes that instructors responsible for training of young female undergraduates upon getting employment in the company should undergo training and education on treatment of female employees as a way of reducing sexual harassment. Paludi and Barickman believes that work on merits helps to reduce cases of unqualified applicants and as a way of promoting and adhering to stringent code of ethics.
Women are known as materialistic and consumer spenders according to McKinnon. It is a fact that has led to their zeal to acquire mechanisms that help enhance their lifestyle. Therefore, they feel the urge to get money or well-paying jobs in exchange for sex. McKinnon also suggests that educating women on social inhibitions and to educate them on their finances is one way of eliminating sexual harassment to ensure their needs are adequately addressed.
Choudhury who also advocates for women empowerment culturally, socially and economically also echoes the same strategy and analogy. This can be effectively achieved by sensitizing women on their civil liberties, freedoms and their rights to ensure equal representation at place of work despite demographical and gender factors.
It will also enlighten women on workplace gender equality as well as the level of field for all employees. Sexual harassment by other employees or management would reduce significantly. Choudhury also suggest that empowerment of women reduce their events of trading of sexual favors for promotions and jobs. This will also help them to embolden women to be empowered by example set by one of their own.
Self-employment is also a good strategy specifically in areas with labor abundance or job insufficiency because the woman could help employ females who are at risk of persevering to sexual harassment to get employment. Mahila also advocates for establishment of laws cherished in the constitution where sexual harassment in the place of work or any other social setting is considered unlawful.
This will also lead to heavy fines for punishment and sexual harassment through serving a jail term. Bergman and Henning, suggests that anyone caught in sexual harassment acts are issued heavy penalties, heavy fines as well as fines and advocates for the same strategies for resolving sexual harassment by offering psychological assistance to victims.
Psychological counselling would also help to ensure victims are in a position to handle emotional trauma, which is quite essential for ensuring justice on perpetrators. Many women who suffer sexual harassment are often afraid to speak out of their trauma in many cases and perpetrators are free to continue with the vice of sexual harassment. This can also be achieved through psychopharmacological, psychotherapeutic and psycho-educational interventions.
Baker, Carrier. The women’s movement against sexual harassment. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Print.
Bergman, Mindy & Henning Jaime. “Sex and ethnicity as moderators in the sexual harassment Phenomenon: A revision and test of Fitzgerald et al. (1994).” Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 13.2 (2008): 152-167. Print.
Choudhury, Dilara, Forum on Women in Security and International Affairs (Bangladesh), & Bangladesh Freedom Foundation. Sexual harassment of Bangladeshi women at workplace. Dhaka: Forum on Women in Security and International Affairs, 2005. Print.
Gregory, Raymond. Women and Workplace Discrimination: Overcoming Barriers to Gender Equality. New Brunswick, NJ [u.a.: Rutgers Univ. Press, 2003. Print.
Mahilā, KānūnaraVikāsaMañca (Kathmandu, Nepal). Prohibition of sexual harassment of women at work place bill/ordinance: Model draft. Kathmandu: Forum for Women, Law, and Development (FWLD, 2005. Print.
McKinnon, Catharine. Sexual Harassment of Working Women: A case of Sex Discrimination. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979. Print.
Paludi, Michele&Barickman, Richard. Academic and workplace sexual harassment: A resource manual. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991. Print.
Shrier, Diane, K. ed. Sexual Harassment in the Workplace and Academia: Psychiatric Issues. Washington: American Psychiatric Press, Inc., 1996. Print.