For someone who has been a victim of sexual harassment, life becomes quite difficult and most of the victims feel like it is impossible to get over the trauma that comes as a direct result of such an incident. Especially in Pakistan, standing up against harassment requires a lot of courage since it is not just about her and what she has been through.
Standing up and telling everyone in her family and friends about what she went through comes with a certain set of consequences. Most families are quite traditional in their thinking and way of life, which can become a hurdle for the woman who is trying to come to terms with what she has been through.This becomes a matter of prestige for both the woman and her family. It takes a toll on her relations along with her future prospects of being able to get married in a good family since not everyone understands such a situation and everyone is in search for the perfect daughter-in-law.
However, things are not taking a turn for the better. There are conferences being held for the women who have faced any sort of harassment, where they can learn more about how to overcome this huge issue while also standing up against the crime that was committed. This has brought more awareness and understanding amongst the public and families. Family support in such situations is vital because their support can make or break the whole process of fighting against harassment.
There are several ways that women can take a stand against this act and ensure a safer and healthier working environment for the women who come after them.
1. No means no
If, at your workplace, someone is obviously coming on to you and you can tell that they have other intentions than a professional work relationship then be very clear that you are totally not interested in anything that they have in mind. Get across your feelings about how you are not at all comfortable with anything except purely a formal relationship that only revolves around the work that you are assigned to do.
There are cases where women are unable to grasp the situation properly in its initial stage and that is sort of taken as a green signal and further actions result from this primary misunderstanding. For the males, it has to be realised that no means no, there is absolutely no way around it and you just can not force someone to like you back or take inappropriate actions on your own capacity.
2. Documentation of the incident
If the victim is not comfortable or feels threatened by being verbal about the harassment, then she can use literature to express what she is going through and demand the harasser to discontinue these inappropriate acts, both in and out of work. The victim can pen down all her feelings in a letter to the harasser or maybe even involve someone else she can trust with such sort of a secret and take their help in documenting this whole incident that she has been facing.
Another way to document sexual harassment could be to record any verbal form of harassment that the victim may be facing, which can very well be used against the criminal when the need occurs for it, if things get out of hand.
Documentation of the harassment can play a vital role as evidence if just these steps do not control the situation and the victim is forced to take this complaint to the authorities or the court, as well. She needs all the evidence she can collect to really back up her case since it is a difficult thing to really prove such cases.
If the predator fails to understand the victim’s constant refusal and even a letter or any other form of documentation then it is time to take this case to the authorities. If there is a superior at work whom you are comfortable with or someone you are comfortable with discussing such a thing, then it is best to take him or her in the loop of the process of this whole incident and how you plan to deal with it. They may be able to give you an advice that could prove quite helpful rather than involving more people into this whole thing.
However, if you feel there is not anyone you can trust with this secret of yours then, in that case, the best option is to report the case to the Human Resource Department. This is what most workplaces abroad recommend you do because then the responsibility of following up and ensuring safety to you falls on the HR Department and the company you are working for. Since it has been brought to their knowledge of a situation that one of their employees is facing, they need to follow the necessary laws that require them to take an action against the said person involved in committing this crime.
Moreover, reporting the crime ensures a safety for the victim in the sense that the employer can not claim that they could have done something about the situation if they had known earlier and made the victim on the losing end of the case. Also, this will make the message quite clear about the victim being uncomfortable about the conduct of the harasser.
Almost every workplace has unions that work for the benefit of the employees, making sure they are not exploited in terms of work, income or any other factor. Keep in mind that reporting such behaviour from a fellow colleague to the union can really be quite helpful for the victim. Especially in Pakistan, where unions are relatively strong and have a lot of power in determining the fate of the employees. Taking this up with your union can destroy any chances of future growth and job prospects of the harasser.
5. Discrimination complaint
Most jobs are required to have equal gender preferences when they have vacancies and applicants from different walks of life and genders apply for those jobs. Choosing the one over the other one basis of anything but their professionalism and career experience will be considered discriminatory. If someone is harassed, that is discriminating against one gender as that could be done so that the person leaves her job on her own or develops a reputation that causes her to be fired.
In any event, it is the right of the victim to file a complaint with the government claiming that she has been facing discrimination while on the job. This can ruin the reputation of the company; it could even lose its investors if such a thing goes public.
6. File a lawsuit
The union or the individual herself can also file a lawsuit against the employer of the workplace, claiming that not enough is being done to ensure a good work environment for the employees and this may cost the company a lot in terms of investor preference, lawsuit filing expenses and most importantly, their reputation. Most companies will prefer to avoid such a lawsuit and try to settle the issue within the company alone, as no employer wants to lower their company’s status.