SPEAK OUT ON VIOLENCE with DORIS KASOTE
MORE often than not, victims of sexual harassment have suffered in silence. Unfortunately, even when such cases get to the attention of those in authority, they do not get the deserved attention.
Sometimes those who complain of sexual harassment are either ignored or simply told to resolve the issue in a ‘mature’ manner with the perpetrator.
Some victims are further accused of luring such advances towards themselves but when the said advances are made, the victims are accused of crying foul.
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when either: The conduct is made as a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, living environment or participation in a university community.
The act in a workplace, or other professional or social situation involves the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks.
This is, however, not to say men are not victims of sexual harassment. Men, as compared to women, may feel uncomfortable to report sexual harassment to relevant authorities for fear of being ridiculed.
Victims of sexual harassment can experience long-term depression and self-blame which may also have a negative effect on mental health including promoting feelings of depression.
During the commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day celebrations held on May 3, World Press Freedom Day organising committee (WPFD) noted with concern that the alleged sexual harassment of female journalists may result in the profession being shunned.
WPFD secretary Elias Banda said exposing female journalists to such harassment makes women uncomfortable and not look forward to performing their duties.
Sexual harassment at work can have very serious consequences both for the harassed individual as well as for other working women.
The consequences to the individual employee can be many and serious. In some situations, a harassed woman risks losing her job or the chance for a promotion if she refuses to give in to the sexual demands of someone in authority.
In other situations, the unwelcome sexual conduct of co-workers makes the working conditions hostile and unpleasant, putting indirect pressure on her to leave the job.
Sometimes, the employee is so traumatised by the harassment that she suffers serious emotional and physical consequences and very often, becomes unable to perform her job properly.
In this regard, access to information ambassador Suzzane Matale has urged media houses to expose sexual harassment against female journalists so that the vice can be curbed.
However, sexual harassment is a cross-cutting issue which needs to be addressed urgently not only in the journalism profession but other professions as well.
The effect on the morale of all employees can also be serious. Both men and women in a workplace can find their work disrupted by sexual harassment even if they are not directly involved.
Sexual harassment can have a demoralising effect on employees and it often negatively impacts company productivity on the whole.
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