It requires immense courage on the part of a woman to break free from conventions, fear of ignominy and speak out on any sexual violation she has undergone. If the perpetrator is influential, the perceived threat is manifold. Nevertheless, women are now valiantly coming forward to reveal their bitter experiences of sexual harassment and register their protest through the '#MeToo' campaign. The trend which was more or less limited to film and showbiz has of late spread to other realms as well, especially the media industry. Allegations levelled against top journalists like MJ Akbar, Union Minister of State for External Affairs, has sent shock waves across the nation and unsettled several other tainted bigwigs.
According to psychologist Mayarani, men and women should be mindful of certain aspects though gender parity is the stated norm in society. Here are some tips to ward off #MeToo-like situation at workplace.
» The awareness to read from the body language and mannerisms of men whose intentions are not right
» The courage and resoluteness to say an outright 'NO' to any misdemeanour
» The ability to discourage any form of sexual advances through jokes, personal accounts, physical contact and so on
» Making it clear that sexually coloured jokes and chats in a group are unacceptable.
» Better understanding of women's rights
» A sense to avoid words, actions, gestures and looks that could outrage the modesty of a woman
» Respect women
» Ability to understand that a woman is not duty-bound to yield to someone's sexual desires
» The sense to avoid predatory behaviour to seek sexual favours from women
What amounts to sexual harassment
» Any form of unwelcome physical contact with sexual intentions
» Sexually suggestive verbal or non-verbal conduct
» Derogatory remarks or comments with a sexual connotation
» Verbal abuse with sexual innuendos, sexual jokes
» Threats to seek sexual favours
» Display of illustrations, graphics or visuals, which are sexually explicit or sharing them through any means of communication in a way that amounts to sexual advance
» Intruding into personal space, that is coming too close to someone without permission
» Abuse of power and stature to coerce, force or threaten a subordinate to give sexual favours and acting with vengeance by underrating performance in jobs.
» Gossiping about a woman's private life
» Making sexually intended sounds like whistling
» Staring, looking, leering and ogling with sexual intentions
» Making gestures or signs suggestive of sexual activity, flashing of genitals or body parts
» Physical assault, rape, attempted rape
» Demanding sexual favours
What doesn't amount to sexual harassment
» Enquiries related to work
» Scrutiny into attendance, unreported absence
» Warnings or reprimands on performance or behavioural impropriety
» Inadvertent physical contact without sexual intention
» Work-related reprimands to meet deadlines and quality standards
» Good humoured banter without sexual colour