Major Teoh’s Blog

January 16, 2007

What is sexual harassment?

Filed under: Management — Major (Rtd) Teoh @ 6:08 am

 What is sexual harassment?

By Major (Rtd) Teoh

Sexual harassment is not a new phenomenon. It is as old as the hills only that it has come into prominence lately because of the awareness amongst the victims, both male and female of their rights and its violation. In the past many have preferred not to report for fear of unnecessary publicity and social biasness where the victim has been put on trial rather than being assisted and provided with protection of the law.

What is sexual harassment?

In CODE OF PRACTICE ON THE PREVENTION AND ERADICATION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE, it is defined as :

(i)         Any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature having the effect of verbal, non-verbal, visual, psychological or physical harassment:

(ii)        that might, on reasonable grounds, be perceived by the recipient as placing a condition of a sexual nature on her/his employment;

or

(iii)       that might, on reasonable grounds, be perceived by the recipient as an offence or humiliation, or a threat to her/his well-being, but has no direct link her/his employment.

From the above, all aspects of this misconduct have been covered. It includes suggestive comments about your gait and appearance; unwanted touching or other physical contact; unwanted sexual jokes or comments;sexual advances; exposure to pornographic pictures and/or psychological torments. In section 8, of the above-mentioned code, it attempts to list out different types of harassment, quote:

“……..   8. Sexual harassment encompasses various conducts of a sexual nature which can manifest themselves into five possible forms, namely;

(i)                verbal harassment:

e.g. offensive or suggestive remarks, comments, jokes, jesting, kidding, sounds, questioning.

(ii)              Non-verbal/gesture harassment:

E.g. leering or ogling with suggestive overtones, licking lips or holding or eating food provocatively, hand signal or sign language denoting sexual activity, persistent flirting.

(iii)            Visual harassment;

e.g. showing pornographic materials, drawing sex-based sketches or writing sex-based letters, sexual exposure.

(iv)            Psychological harassment:

e.g. repeated unwanted social invitations, relentless proposals for dates or physical intimacy

(v)              Physical harassments:

e.g. inappropriate touching, patting, pinching, stroking, brushing up against the body, hugging kissing, fondling, sexual assault.


Case for the Prosecution

A strong and good case for the prosecution would be if the following elements/ingredients could be established and they are:

Unwanted;

Unwelcome;

Unsolicited;

Unreciprocated and:

Imposed upon.

Evidence of the above should be meticulously collected, documented and with names of eye-witnesses present at or during the alleged incident. All these documents should be kept at home in a safe place. You may also be required to document your work and keep copies of your performance evaluations and memos that attest to the quality of your work. There is this possibility that the harasser may question your job performance in order to justify his behavior.

Can a male employee lodge a case of sexual harassment by a female employee? Why not? Anybody can be sexually harassed.


Copyright © 2005 Major (Rtd) Teoh

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