Every now and then we come across workplace sexual harassment cases in India, and each time a company, industry or even state comes under the spotlight. Unfortunately, sexual harassment in offices has become a concerning trend which can happen to both women as well as men. It can be in the form of unwanted physical conduct, verbal abuse or suggestive language, or suggestive text messages or videos and such.
Generally, an employee might be threatened with some form of punishment unless sexual favors are granted, embraced, proposed for an affair, sent obscene phone calls or even subjected to sex-stereotyped jokes in cases of sexual harassment. The harassment can take other forms as well.
Some official sexual harassment cases have rocked India since quite a long time. In one, a lady professional had accused her well-known boss of touching her inappropriately at a party, though the accused wasn’t jailed.
In another instance, a very capable executive was accused of sexual harassment by his secretary, and had to resign. There was yet again a case where a female employee was harassed for three years by her superior. In some instances, out of court settlements resolved the issue too.
Two men had once accused a very famous Indian citizen of sexually controlling and harassing them in the name of professionalism, while the honchos of many reputed companies continue to appear in the news for lewd behavior and even rape.
Effects on victims
Irrespective of the fact whether the victim is a man or a woman, sexual harassment in offices can lead to various psychological disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, increased blood pressure, sleep-related problems, suicidal tendencies and physical aches or pain. The self-confidence and willpower of the victim is often shattered.Hence, it’s crucial to know how to deal with such harassment.
Tips on dealing with sexual harassment
Clearly tell the perpetrator that his or her advances are unwelcome. Say NO firmly but politely, or send a text message or email if you are not comfortable with a direct confrontation. Save the message as proof.
Make notes of where, when and how the harassment happened and who else was present there.
Inform another colleague you trust about the harassment, or friends and family members.
Save all the work you do and all official communications in case the perpetrator decides to question your performance.
Take your HR department or another senior into your confidence and provide proper evidence like text messages, videos or voice recordings as evidence. The HR is actually bound to address the issue.
Don’t expect all your colleagues or teammates to support or believe you. This might happen especially if the harasser is a superior.
Try your best to avoid the perpetrator, or keep a discreet recording device handy if you are unable to avoid. At least make one co-worker your witness, if you fear harassment might occur again.
Make a police report if the problem is grave, or consult a lawyer who deals with such cases.
Don’t be shy; it will simply feed the harasser’s ego. Practice assertive responses if need be. And never ignore any sexual harassment incident.
Your mental health is important
As a sexual harassment victim, it’s natural to have many questions, doubts, and fears. Don’t be afraid to consult a psychologist to process feelings like shame, confusion, rage, guilt or isolation after a traumatic experience. If you ignore these feelings, they might come back to you on a later date and affect your normal life. Finally, believe in yourself and know that you are right. If you are confident, your workplace will become a better place for you.
* This health tip is only for educational purpose.This can't be use as a medical/legal document or proof. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!