Sexual Harassment: Should it Stop You?

There has always been so much talk about working women. While some people defend it ferociously, others seem to take a firm stand against it, justifying their position by different reasons, related to family, children, motherhood, etc. However one reason that cause some women to give up their jobs, and push men to resent the idea and sometime prevent their wives from going out to work is one that might seem plausible enough, while if you look closely you’ll probably find that it’s in fact an emotionally driven reaction for a problem that must be handled in a whole different way, that being Sexual Harassment.

First, let’s take a look at what sexual harassment is. Before anything else, sexual harassment is an act of sex discrimination, viewing women as objects open for men to fulfill their whimsical desires. It also implies that some men think that once a woman is out of her home, she’s up for grabs, and that they can violate her if they want to. Thus, sexual harassment is an insult to women, and even if it entails no physical harm, it’s very hurtful for women’s feelings, confidence and self-esteem; however they try to convince themselves that it shouldn’t be. Of course, sexual harassment isn’t only physical. It can take different forms starting from leering; making sexually explicit gestures; displaying sexually explicit objects, pictures, posters, or pinups (Visual) to derogatory comments, epithets, slurs, jokes; unwelcome sexual advances, propositions, or demands for sexual favors; unwelcome comments about an individual’s body or appearance (Verbal) and finally unwanted touching, such as patting, pinching, hugging, brushing against another’s body, coerced kissing or fondling, physical assault (physical).

Thus, you might be thinking now that more women than you originally thought are subject to sexual harassment at work. This is the very idea that makes many men in oriental societies refuse firmly that their wives be part of the labor market. Understandable? Yes. Right? I hardly think so.

So, we all agree that sexual harassment is hideous, unaccepted and sometimes unbearable. But is it enough reason for a woman to give up a thriving career?

Let’s set the record straight. In sexual harassment, there’s an abuser and a victim. In many cases of office sexual harassment, the victim backs out and retreats in silence, while the abuser stays there to harass other women. In a perfect world, the harasser would be reported, fired or punished in any other way. So, when others see that he got what he deserves, they will  refrain from such acts and everyone continues to work happily ever after.

Now, most people find it hard to have it done this way. Although we realize that the woman here is a victim, and that her honor and dignity haven’t been undermined, it remains very hard and heavy to spill the beans. But again, silence and backing out won’t solve the problem, but rather make it worse; for abusers can exist anywhere, not only at work, so what would you do?

Let’s try to see this in another light…

Would you stop walking in the street because of pick-pockets?

Would a store be closed down because of shop lifters?

Or, would you rather get those busted to get what they have (or haven’t) seen coming?

This might seem different, but at the core of it, it’s not that different. This is a crime, and that is a crime too. This is an abuser and that is a felon. No one should get away with impunity, and you have the right to work just as you have the right to shop or walk in the street. And the word “right” here fits into place, bearing in mind that in Islam, a work is an obligation for men, while it’s a right for women, no strings attached. So, if God gives me this right, why would I let one ill-mannered human take it away?

You do the math.

Disclaimer: Sexual harassment isn’t only committed by men against women. It happens the other way around and between individuals from the same gender. However, this post addressed women because  it is much more likely that women would quit their jobs on that account than men would.

 

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