YOUR SAFETY IS OUR JOB
What is sexual harassment?
New Zealand Human Rights Commission
Under the Human Rights Act 1993 two types of sexual harassment are prohibited. They are;
1. Physical behaviour, language or visual material of a sexual nature, which is unwelcome or offensive, and either repeated or significant enough to have a detrimental effect on the person subjected to it.
2. A request for sexual activity together with an implied or overt promise of preferential treatment or a threat of detrimental treatment.
Sexual harassment should always be taken seriously because:
• People don’t have to put up with sexual behaviour they don’t like
• Sexual harassment is often repeated unless action is taken
• Sexual harassment may affect people’s ability to work, study, access services or to feel comfortable in their school, tertiary institution or workplace
• Sexual harassment affects self-esteem negatively and can cause health problems
• Sexual harassment can cause major disruption to a workplace or business reputation
• If employers do not take sufficient steps to prevent harassment occurring, they may be liable for the harassment carried out by their employees, or of their employees by their clients.
What can sexual harassment look like?
Sexual harassment harms workers. Below are some examples of what sexual harassment in the workplace can look like, (excepts taken from the Worksafe NZ website. See the below Worksafe NZ link for more information.
Worksafe NZ Sexual harassment advise for workers guide link;
It can happen at any time and at all levels of a business. Sexual harassment can be spoken or written, visual or physical acts. It can occur in person, through text messaging, or online through email, internet chat rooms or other social media channels.
The six scenarios below provide examples of what sexual harassment may look like at work, in terms of:
• Scenario 1: sexual remarks or jokes
• Scenario 2: implied or actual threats of being overlooked for work opportunities or promotion, if you say no to your boss’s advances
• Scenario 3: unwelcome touching, patting, or pinching by your boss, co-worker or customer
• Scenario 4: regular hassling for a date or being followed home by a co-worker
• Scenairo 5: sexually offensive images, including screen savers of a sexual nature
• Scenario 6: intrusive questions about your sex life.
Scenario 1: Sarah
Below is an example of what sexual harassment, in the form of - sexual remarks or jokes, may look like at work.
Sarah works as a traffic controller in a road construction crew. During breaks, her co-workers often make offensive sexual gestures, remarks and jokes which makes Sarah uncomfortable and distressed.
Note: in this example Sarah’s co-workers behaviour could be considered sexual harassment because the behaviour is unwelcome and offensive, it’s repeated and having a harmful effect on Sarah.
Scenario 2: Doug
Below is an example of what sexual harassment, in the form of - implied or actual threats of being overlooked for work opportunities or promotion if you say no to your boss’s advances, may look like at work.
Doug has been working as an analyst for three years at his company. At a recent work function his boss Helen made inappropriate advances towards Doug which he rebuffed. The next week Doug was called into a meeting with Helen after hours and told that if he wasn’t ok with her behaviour he would never advance within the company.
Note: in this example Helen’s behaviour would be considered sexual harassment because she has implied that Doug will be overlooked for work opportunities for promotion because he declined her inappropriate advances.
Scenario 3: Marama
Below is an example of what sexual harassment, in the form of – unwelcome touching, patting, or pinching by your boss, co-worker or customer, may look like at work.
Marama works at a local café. Rhys, a regular customer, often greets Marama by trying to give her a hug which makes her uncomfortable. Recently, Rhys’s behaviour escalated when he inappropriately pinched Marama as she walked past the table he was sitting at.
Note: in this example Rhys’s behaviour would be considered sexual harassment because he has touched Marama in an inappropriate and unwelcome way.
Scenario 4: Nikau
Below is an example of what sexual harassment, in the form of – regular hassling for a date or being followed home by a co-worker, may look like at work.
Stacey and Nikau work at a retail store. When Nikau first started they went out on a date but decided that they wouldn’t take things any further after that. Recently Stacey started pressuring Nikau to go out on another date even though he now has a partner. He has also noticed her car parked on the street outside his house and that she waits for him to go out to “bump” into him.
Note: in this example Stacey’s behaviour may be considered sexual harassment as she is regularly hassling Nikau for a date and following him home from work even though he does not feel the same way and has a current partner.
Scenario 5: Mick
Below is an example of what sexual harassment, in the form of – sexually offensive images, including screen savers of a sexual nature, may look like at work.
Mick, a local mechanic, has recently hired a new young receptionist Abigail. Abigail’s desk is next to Micks and she notices that his screen saver is a series of degrading images of women. Mick knows this makes Abigail uncomfortable but refuses to change it.
Note: in this example Mick’s behaviour would be considered sexual harassment as he is deliberately making Abigail feel uncomfortable by having sexually offensive images on his computer screen saver.
Scenario 6: Aziz
Below is an example of what sexual harassment, in the form of – intrusive questions about your sex life, may look like at work.
Aziz works as a builder in a construction crew. His co-worker Harold often brings up Aziz’s wife during their breaks and asks rude and intrusive questions in front of other co-workers about Aziz’s sex life. This make Aziz feel uncomfortable and upset.
Note: in this example Harold’s behaviour would be considered sexual harassment as he is deliberately making Aziz feel uncomfortable by asking rude and intrusive questions about Aziz’s sex life.
What other examples of sexual harassment could look like.
Sexual harassment in the workplace – what it can look like.
Below are possible scenarios of what sexual harassment in the workplace can look like , that is not rape.
The goal of the perpetrator is to “prime” or “groom” the victim , to gain the victim's affection and trust and ultimately gain sexual gratification.
Sexual harm is about power over the victim, to gain sexual gratification, whether attained or denied by the victim. More often than not, if the victim denies the perpetrator sexual gratification, the perpetrator can often turn to further abusive tactics to gain gratification by harming the victim in other ways. The perpetrator will try to use their power over the victim to cause harm and to make the victim feel powerless.
This abuse can take various forms, as listed below;
1/ The perpetrator may offer you promotions if you show affection towards the perpetrator.
PROMOTIONS SHOULD BE A NORMAL PART OF WORKPLACE PROCESS, WHICH TAKE PLACE WITHIN A FORMAL DOCUMENTED WORK AGREEMENT. THEY SHOULD NOT BE OFFERED BY ANY ONE PERSON WITHIN THE WORKPLACE INFORMALLY.
2/ The perpetrator may touch your body , eg slide his/ her hand down parts of your body, stroke parts of your body with his/ her fingers , touch you inappropriately in various parts of your body, rubbing his / her feet against yours under the desk or table, rubbing up against your body when standing beside you , rubbing up against your body when seated beside you when travelling together, he / she may look your body up and down with his eyes slowly when you approach him / her.
YOUR BODY IS NOT MEANT TO BE TOUCHED BY ANYONE AT WORK , UNLESS IT IS A CONSENTUAL, APPROPRAITE FORM OF TOUCHING , EG : A HAND SHAKE. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO DIGNITY IN A WORKPLACE AND YOUR BODY SHOULD NOT BE TOUCHED OR “LOOKED AT” INAPPROPRIATELY IN ANY WAY.
3/ If travelling overseas on trips , beware not to let the perpetrator into your hotel room. He may purposely set up a meeting in your room, instead of booking a conference room or meeting in the lobby, or hotel restaurant. He may purposely choose to lye on the bed and say things like "I must be crazy , why am I doing this"....insinuating that he wants to cheat on this wife with the victim, placing the victim in a very vulnerable position professionally and personally.
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT IF TRAVELLING OVER NIGHT WITH WORK COLLEAGUES THAT PUBLIC PLACES ARE USED FOR MEETINGS. A POTENTIAL VICTIM NEEDS TO BE AWARE THAT THEY WILL NOT HAVE WITNESSES IF THEY ARE ABUSED BY A WORK COLLEAGUE WHEN A MEETING IS HELD IN A PRIVATE HOTEL ROOM. PLACE YOURSELF IN A PRIVATE HOTEL ROOM.
4/ The perpetrator may stand inappropriately close to you.
APPROPRIATE BODY DISTANCE BETWEEN EMPLOYEES AT WORPLACES AND IF AT SOCIAL WORK FUNCTIONS OUTSIDE OF THE WORKPLACE SHOULD ALWAYS BE MAINTAINED.
5/ The perpetrator may make rude , abusive sexual comments towards you eg: “ She’s easy” , “She’s a tart” , “She’s a flirt” , “She’s a slut” , “ We could do it on the desk” , call you a “Hoe”
ALL WORKPLACES CAN HAVE HEALTHY BANTER TO KEEP THE MORALE OF THE EMPLOYEES, BUT ABUSIVE REMARKS ARE NOT ACCPETABLE FOR ANY EMPLOYEE.
6/ The perpetrator may make reference to himself/ herself being affluent financially in front of other employees whilst looking at the victim, to infer that the victim must be interested in him/ her.
REPEATED, PUPOSELY LOADED DISCUSSIONS OF FINANCAIL AFFLUNCE TOWARDS ANOTHER EMPLOYEE CAN BE A SIGN OF A PERPETRATOR TARGETING A VICTIM.
7/ The perpetrator may discuss his wife / or husband in a negative way constantly when you are alone with them, eg: “My wife isn’t any fun anymore”, “ My wife doesn’t understand me, she’s too young, or too old, so we don’t have anything in common”
PERSONAL DISCUSSIONS ARE NORMAL IN A WORKPLACE , BUT BEWARE OF ANY EXCHANGES THAT ARE SIMILAR TO THE ABOVE LISTED ONES IF THE PERSON SAYING THESE THINGS HAS BEEN SHOWING UNUSUAL BEHAVIOUR TOWARDS YOU AND IS MAKING YOU FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE.
8/ The perpetrator may say things like “You’ve got some competition” in a sexual way to a supplier or colleague, implying that the victim is interested in him/ her.
A FELLOW EMPLOYEE SHOULD NEVER INFER THAT ANOTHER EMPLOYEE IS INTERESTED IN THEM, UNLESS OF COURSE IN A SAFE WAY THAT IS CONSENSUAL.
9/ The perpetrator may purposely email the victim photos of his / her wife, after abusing the victim to further make the victim feel uncomfortable. The perpetrator may purposely invite the victim to his personal house for team Xmas functions, after abusing the victim to further make the victim feel uncomfortable.
THIS IS PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE TO MAKE THE VICTIM FEEL TRAPPED INTO GOING ALONG WITH THE “TEAM MORALE”, AS THE OTHER TEAM MEMBERS MAY NOT BE AWARE OF THE ABUSE THAT HAS BEEN PERPETRATED ON THE VICTIM. AN EMPLOYEE DOES NOT HAVE TO ATTEND ANY WORK FUNCTIONS AT ANY EMPLOYEE’S PERSONAL HOUSE AND SHOULD NOT BE MADE TO FEEL “UNSOCIAL” IF THEY CHOOSE NOT TO ATTEND.
10/ Often the victim will try various techniques to try to change the way the perpetrator treats them. Beware that a perpetrator's behavior can not be changed, perpetrators of sexual harassment in the workplace are wired differently and do not have empathy. They will most likely not stop targeting the victim regardless of how the victim acts towards them.
The victim must be careful about how they speak to the perpetrator. The perpetrator can manipulate everything that is said by the victim to him/ her. If the victim speaks out against the perpetrator , eg calling him / her a “moron” or a “dickhead” to send a strong message that the victim is not interested in the perpetrator's advances, the perpetrator can turn extremely nasty and retaliate with expressions like “This one's got tallons” loudly to the office and fellow employees, or worse if alone.
If the victim tries to appease the perpetrator with flattery , eg “I like your t -shirt “ or “your beard looks lovely” the perpetrator will use this as a sign that the victim is intertested in his/ her advances , or use it against the victim by saying comments like “ Oh, finally she’s nice to me” , said loudly to the office. There is no winning against the perpetrator, there is no point in expecting the perpetrator’s behavior to change.
11/ Beware of being drugged, especially if travelling overseas. The perpetrator may purposely drug drinks or food with women's versions of "Prozac" or a similar sexual arousal drug to make the victim feel sexually aroused whilst travelling for work with the perpetrator. The victim is especially vulnerable when travelling overseas alone. The after effects of this drug can cause "spotting", so be aware if you have experienced this and the signs to look for afterwards. If this has been an intentional bullying and sexual harassment ploy, bullying comments like "She's spotting" etc can follow, especially if the victim did not do what the perpetrator wanted in the way of sexual affection. This is to further intimidate the victim.
12/ The perpetrator can say things like " explore different orafaces", instead of " explore different options", " the perpetrator can say things like" the condom burst " while smiling and looking at you. The perpetrator can make hand gestures like he is masturbating while looking at you.The perpetrator may make finger gestures towards you as if he is "feeling you up sexually" and may purposely encourage other employees to do the same , including senior managers. To include seniors managers in the abuse is complete dis- empowerment of the victim and is very serious.
13/ The perpetrator may warn you against disclosure of his abuse. This is to further intimidate you and make you feel powerless. Make sure all of this is recorded and written down, so you may draw on it if you choose to disclose.
THIS IS PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE TO FURTHER MAKE THE VICTIM FEEL DIS- EMPOWERED AND UNABLE TO STOP THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT. A PERPETRATOR OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE DOES NOT HAVE EMPATHY, SO ANY ATTEMPT TO PLACATE OR CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIOUR WILL MORE THAN LIKELY BE FUTILE, IN FACT IT CAN BE MORE DANGERIOUS FOR THE VICTIM AND WILL FURTHER PROLONGE THE ABUSE.
IT IS A MUCH SAFER OPTION TO REPORT THE ABUSE AS SOON AS IT OCCURS SO IT WILL NOT ESCULATE FURTHER.