This project paper will discuss on harassment laws with special emphasis of sexual harassment laws. It will cover on the introduction by introducing the topic by defining the terms harassment and sexual harassment, the history of law which will dwell on how the law came into being, how it has been interpreted and administered in different quarters and how efforts by the government and all stakeholders are being made to strengthen it, the importance of law, on why people should understand why the law on sexual harassment is important, the conclusion which give personal thoughts about this issue, the reflective analysis pointing out the lessons learnt and the references giving the list where the material used in the project was obtained from.
What is harassment?
Harassment has been viewed with little and narrow perspective, not fully understood by the majority of people on what it means. It doesn’t necessarily means inflicting physical pain or harm on a person but also the use of mouth can facilitate the worst form of harassment to people. Harassment can be defined as any form of unbecoming and unacceptable behaviour that a person doesn’t want, that which offends, intimidates or humiliates a person because of ones gender, race, age, marital status, disability, transgender and careers responsibilities. It can come in different forms depending on the environment and the circumstances at that given time. The people affected are psychologically and mentally traumatized because of what has happened to them and fear that they may be harassed again. This is also related to sexual harassment as it means any unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature which may be deemed offensive by another person.. This can be either by verbal by commenting about somebody general appearance, by requesting for sexual favours, making sexual demands to the same or opposite sex. Nonverbal by looking at a persons body (flirting) and displaying sexual materials and lastly by physical which includes kissing, touching, pinching, hugging un willing person, sexually assaulting the other person and rape.
Most people have used harassment as a way of meeting their evil objectives. They do not care about the feelings of the victim whom they are harassing. Those harassed are always given threats and ultimatums that if they reveal out what has happened to them, some terrible consequences will follow, which might lead to termination of their jobs or otherwise. With no option at hand, they have resorted to silence, which has affected their lives and way of socialization. However it should be understood clearly that harassment is prone to both genders, without insisting one only one gender is harassed than the other one. The major purpose of this paper is to actually discuss about harassment laws with special emphasis on laws on sexual harassment. It will further give details on why this law should be used and how it will be able to protect and defend the victims whom the majority is women.
History of law
The laws on sexual harassment have been a topic of discussion for many years. The men have always developed cold feet in discussing these laws especially men law makers in parliament. The women have been in the fore front in raising awareness and making sure that the laws on sexual harassment becomes law and implemented. Law has been in existence with man for many years. It has been acting as a guide to man in helping solve some of the most critical issues happening to man. Law on sexual harassment has a long history and the laws depended on the tribe, state or country, federation, an organization or whatever that is viewed to use laws. In the ancient days the laws were made by the village elders who had the final ruling in their community but there was no representation of women in these councils of elders. These elders were seen as the bright and possessed wisdom, in that their decisions were final and nobody could oppose them. All people observed and followed these laws without breaking them fearing the repercussions.
The topic on sex was very sensitive and so was treated with a lot of caution and sometimes with confidentiality. With civilization taking place, people now became more enlightened, went to school of law which produced scholars of law. These scholars came up with laws for each crime after making the necessary research on it. They formulated laws on sexual harassment to replace the traditional ones (but some of them are being used) which were not fully acceptable to all quarters of people. These laws were them forwarded to parliament for discussion. It is here the new law can be accepted or rejected after a thorough debate about it. The sexual harassment laws have not received much attention in most parliaments of many nations because the women who support them are few against the men who do not even wish to discuss about them. However, of late many governments and organizations have taken up this issue of sexual harassment seriously by actively laying down a framework of the laws regarding sexual harassment, some of which have been accepted and passed in parliament to become laws.
Women organizations such as FIDA have been making the loudest noise on sexual harassment of women especially at work place. They have also been offering professional qualified lawyers to present their fellow women in court for those who have been sexually harassed. Always aw has been regarded as the final solution to an issue which has had both parties contesting on who is right or wrong. This is the reason why the laws are made to act as a guide. Human resource managers use these laws to solve cases on sexual harassment in their organizations. The laws do not favour anybody but give the right judgment. This is the reason it does not favour an enlightened or ignorant person when it is being applied.
There are certain ways to prevent and deal with both employees and employers. The European commission in its recommendation on protection of the dignity of women and mean at work (November 1991);
“Member states should take action to promote awareness that conduct of a sexual nature, or other conduct bases on sex affecting the dignity of women and men at work, including conduct of superior and colleagues, is unacceptable if;
a) Such conduct is unwanted, unreasonable and offensive to the recipient.
b) Persons rejections of, or submission to, such conduct is used explicitly as a basis for promotion or any other employment decision.
c) Such conduct created an intimated hostile or humiliating work environment for the recipient.
To prevent this can employer needs to minimize the possibility of sexual harassment and are;
1. Produce and publish a clear policy statement on this issue to include example of harassment and its likely effects, and to make clear the standards expected to employees and the penalties available for those who breach them.
2. Ensure that appropriate communication system exist to enable employees to report sexual harassment in confidence.
3. Ensure that appropriate disciplinary measures are in operation to deal fairly with offenders.
4. Ensure that allegations of sexual harassment are investigated and dealt with without delay.
5. Provide appropriate counseling for recipients and offenders.
6. Through internal communications to give wide publicity to the organizations intentions regarding the harassment of fellow employees.
The importance of law
The law is there to give the right direction and conclusion cases and issues. Incases where it is abused, the same law will be used to deal with the person who abused it. The law on sexual abuse can be important in the following ways;
a) To act as a guide in helping solve cases and issues regarding to sexual harassment at work. The human resource managers must make use of these laws without any fear of favour.
b) The laws give employees some kind of safety while at work because they know that if they are sexually harassed; there is a law which will protect them. This will give some morale and motivation at work, which they will work without any fear, as their greatest fear has already been taken care of.
c) Gives the victims affected any form harassment a ground where they can argue and put cases forward using the law. The laws help them to lay charges against the perpetrators knowing that justice will be administered fairly.
d) Law is the symbol of unity. Once the law is not violated, there is peace and unity amongst the people. When a crime is done and the law is not applied to the satisfaction of the both parties, the unity and peace which used to exist before will not be there anymore. It is law which will bring unity back if applied in an appropriate acceptable way.
e) It instills some fear on the offenders and those who may intend to sexual harass their colleagues at work. This fear comes in with the stiff penalty and judgment which will be handed to the offender once he / she commits the crime.
The success in solving cases on sexual harassment will be efforts of all people at work place i.e. the employer and the employees. This form of harassment is primitive and unacceptable in the modern world. Those caught committing the offence or those who have committed the offence should face full face of the law without any favour. Stiffer penalties should be put in place to punish the offenders as the laws which are in place have many loopholes where the offenders can go scot-free without being accused. The law on sexual harassment should be interpreted into a simpler form so that even the layman will be able to understand it fully and be able to use it wisely when necessary.
The human resource department off every organization must make sure that all their employees are aware of the sexual harassment laws so that they cannot become victims foolishly. This can be done by offering in-house workshops on this issue for them to realize how important it is. It is also the responsibility of the governments to speed up the enactment of all sexual harassment laws in parliament so that justice can be administered well in the courts. More efforts should be made to give hope those who have been harassed and be urged to forward their cases without any fear so that justice can take its course. If organizations are to retain their hardworking staff, especially women, issues on sexual harassment will have to taken into consideration so that women can feel safe while on duty. The law should be followed properly and all employees should embrace these laws as they are meant to protect all of them.
Human sexuality is one of the most crucial and controversial topics of our time. The study of human resource management more so sexual harassment in work place has been one of the best topics I have studied in this semester. These topics have a more practical content than theoretical.
Forms of sexual harassment
This usually takes in many forms and some of them include;
· Use of unwanted and unwelcomed, inappropriate physical contact with a sexual connotation e.g. touching on the shoulder, thighs, brushing of the hands or fingers on e.g. Woman’s chest etc.
· Use of suggestive proposition or language which especially emphasizes on the gender or sexuality preferences of an individual e.g. ‘short, tight skirts bring out your thighs nicely,’ “don’t touch me you fag or weirdo” etc.
· Use of public jokes which particular embarrass a particular gender or intimidate, in and out of workplace.
· The use of offensive poster and graffiti that degrades any gender or a particular sexuality.
· The isolation and non-co-operation at work of any gender or sexuality. This involves hiding of information, and not involving the individual in discussion and rubbishing any suggestion they come up with etc.
· Shunning an individual at work and socially. This involves not sharing of workplace resources e.g. printer, telephones etc. This is usually done deliberately to avoid any contact with the particular individual.
· Pestering a person, by asking inappropriate and offensive questions. This is particularly experienced by the homosexuals and transgender individuals.
· Inappropriate and unwelcomed favors and request for social that are sexually suggestive.
· The use of pornographic, degrading pictures (as screen savers on computer) at the work place that particularly attacks a specific gender or sexual preferences.
Sample policy and procedures dealing with complains dealing with sexual harassment include.
· The complainant who has been harassed can verbally speak or write as statement to the alleged harasser and explain that the conduct shown was inappropriate, unwelcomed, offensive and not respective. This should be done if necessary in the presence of a third individual e.g. a workmate, head of human resource manager. The conversation should be polite, cordial but firm. Alleged harasser should be advice that the conduct is unacceptable and won’t be tolerate. It’s important that copies should be made orally by use of video-taped. This will help in any follow-up action in the future if necessary.
· If the situation is too difficult or uncomfortable, a supervisor, colleague should accompany the individual (victim).
· If the above fails, the head of the human resource management should be involved. The human resource management has an obligation to investigate the compliant and discuss with the alleged harasser on the findings. If the findings are true, repercussions should follow.
Evolution of sexuality
Sexuality has also changed when it comes to sex perceptions and with it the shortcomings if this exposure is felt. The unassertive females have become dominant and even display advertisements citing their needs from a man. The conservative woman is gone. The culmination of this revealing attitude that women have given way to a new outcome: even a married woman has been given the mandate to sue her husband if he rapes her, unlike early in the century where conjugal rights were granted to a man unconditionally. Sex has become insignificant with couple divorcing and heading for another spouse at a high rate. The institution of marriage is losing its sanity and rule of for good for worse is waning. The moral standards of the society has decayed, prostitution has become a profession with sex as the tool of trade. This evolution of human sexuality has taken the following graph shape (graph 1)
Naturally women are endowed with the sexual characteristics of beauty; this has gone a step higher to show how view the on sex has changed. This a major draw back as it has brought a new era of sexuality exploitation. A stunning model is used in adverts to capture the attention of sexuality alongside the product on sale. Inventions of the 20th century have changed these perceptions of the people with the coming of sex toys, contraceptive and libido enhances. This has made sexuality become divided-both sexes feel independent of each other. Primarily sex was for reproduction but today is mostly done for pleasure, with some people opting to use toys instead of getting a member of the opposite sex .
To a great instance, the 21st century has found sexuality reduced to something simple, an everyday affair that everyone is at liberty with. All the notions about this subject are no more under the rules; it’s an open topic for all. The media houses are taking it a step ahead by using topical issues on this subject to cultivate interest of the audience. Children of the 21st century are taught in schools and exposed to sexual related affairs at an early age .
The graph above shows incident of sexual harassment comparison with bullying and discrimination. Often sexual harassment in work place is associated with bullying or discrimination. It shows that cases of sexual harassment were higher in the year 2002 as reported in multinational l corporation as the cases of bullying and discrimination came down sexual harassment cases also reduced. in order to compact sexual harassment bullying and discrimination should be also dealt with in order to reduce sexual harassment. Therefore sexual harassment may a form of bullying.
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