Harassment is considered one of the most important issues that might negatively affect an organizational environment and the individuals as well. Harassment is the act of unwanted and annoying actions of one group or individual that may induce threats and demands.
It includes racial prejudice, personal malice, or to grant sexual favors, forcing someone to quit a job or applying illegal pressure to collect a bill. The harasser can be a male or female. Most of the times, the harassment is targetted at the opposite gender but sometimes the victim belongs to the same gender of the harasser.
Workplace harassment is the type of sexual harassment that may be unlawful when employees are subjected to unwanted actions or comments of sexual nature, sexual stories or innuendos, discussion about employees sex lives, unwanted touching or requesting for sex or sexual material in the workplace.
Workplace harassment has now become very common because the women in the contemporary world have started working in every field of life along with men.
Though sexual harassment at the workplace has assumed serious proportions, women do not report the matter to the concerned authorities in most cases due to fear of reprisal from the harasser, losing one’s livelihood, being stigmatized, or losing professional standing and personal reputation.
Across the globe, today, sexual harassment at workplace is increasingly understood as a violation of women’s rights and a form of violence against women. Indeed, the social construct of male privileges in society continues to be used to justify violence against women in the private and public sphere. In essence, sexual harassment is a mirror reflecting the power of male over women that sustain patriarchal relations.
In a society where violence against women, both indirect and direct, is borne out of the patriarchal values, women are forced to conform to traditional gender roles. These patriarchal values and attitudes of both women and men pose the greatest challenge in resolution and prevention from sexual harassment. Workplace sexual harassment, like other forms of violence, is not harmless. It involves serious health, human, economic and social costs, which manifests themselves in the overall development indexes of a nation.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2010 in Pakistan was enacted to ensure safe working spaces for women and to construct safer work environments for them. The sense of security at the workplace will improve women’s participation in work resulting in their economic empowerment and inclusive growth. The Punjab government recently established a “women’s harassment protection cell” to protect the women of Punjab from all types of harassment.
These are the important steps to be taken to eradicate workplace harassment:
1. Develop and communicate a harassment policy endorsed by top management to all the staff members.
2. Use a fair complaint procedure to investigate charges of sexual harassment.
3. Take corrective actions against the harasser as soon as possible.
4. Provide sexual harassment education and training to organizational members, including the managers.
5. The organization must take some strong steps against the harasser and provide the security to the victim.
I hope working on these steps will help to reduce harassment at workplace.