Sexual Harassment – What is it?

The term Sexual Harassment refers to bullying or compulsion of sexual nature or uninvited promise of reward in return of sexual favors. In legal context, sexual harassment is deemed illegal.

Sexual harassment at work place is a global problem particularly faced by women through centuries. Latest research suggests that victims of sexual harassment may also face health problems.  It has been witnessed that victims often suffer from depression, post – traumatic stress disorder, sleep problems, blood pressure and suicidal behaviors.  Furthermore the victims often fall prey to self- blame holding them responsible of what happened. A study by Everyday Sexism Program reveals that women victimized by street harassment often lose confidence in public spaces.

Incidents of sexual harassment at work place still persist affecting the lives of women. Harassment at work place often has serious long term effects on a woman’s career. A lot of times women are even hesitant to report such incidents fearing that they may have to face the music. It has been noticed that some women after reporting such incidents are either shifted to a different department or labeled as mischief – makers. Sexual harassment is a global problem according to a new report by Girl Guiding UK 60% of young women aged 13 to 21 have encountered sexual harassment at school or college . According to a survey carried out across UK girls treat such encounters as “ a normal aspect of being a girl.” Similarly girls in Pakistan also face sexual harassment at school, collages, public transport and work places.  There have been some incidents of sexual harassment of female students by their university male professors in Pakistan. These incidents were reported hence the perpetrators were punished.

Women often experience taunting sexual remarks on streets, public transport and in public places but so far it has not been taken seriously.  Latest research reveals that most of the men are unable to differentiate between complimenting a woman and harassing her by striking a flirting conversation.

In Pakistan the much awaited sexual harassment law was passed by the Government in March 2010 declaring sexual harassment against women at work place punishable.  Now perpetrators of sexual harassment could either be imprisoned for three years, could be fined 50000 or may have to suffer both the penalties. It is high time that Pakistani women should stop enduring even minor incidents of sexual harassment at work place and report all such incidents.

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