SIJU YUSUF: WORKPLACE SEXUAL HARASSMENT
One sexual harassment (I have experienced quite a number) I will never forget was when the cussed man groped me in his office, right in the presence of another staff.
I didn’t see it coming. My tongue must have been very twisted or was it my brain? I remember being numb and dumbfounded. It took few expensive seconds to come to terms with what had just happened or what was happening. And in those long seconds, if the blaze in my eyes could start a fire, the fire department would not have been able to control the damage down the street.
Till this day, I don’t know if I would have felt better was there no third party. If I would have grieved my injured self worth with saner thoughts. A huge part of me would have preferred I was humiliated ‘privately’ but overtime, I have seen a million and one reasons to be thankful for the other presence in the room/office.
If he could grope in such close perimeters with another soul, he definitely had no cares at all and it could have been worse.
It happened so fast, it left me drained, tactless and stupefied.
To crown it all, I could not report it. The case was and never will be reported because of peculiar reasons top of which was – I would have been kicked out of the job. (The Nigerian Bosses- Subordinates Factor).
I relive that experience till this day. And as I grow older, feeling the need to sensitize people on a number of things.
No one should ever go through such demeaning, discriminating and objectifying acts.
Work place sexual harassment shouldn’t be taken lightly.
I was harassed in more than one way.
He sent suggestive emails, told lewd jokes, touched inappropriately, made sexual comments about my appearance (he couldn’t even stop staring at my rear), he made way too many inappropriate sexual gestures!
Some people didn’t get of his hook as ‘easily’ as I did but their stories are theirs to share, not mine.
I am extremely grateful to the support group I had outside of work then. If (God forbid) I find myself in a similar situation now, I know better to handle it differently or to do extras.
To share some of the things I did/would have done-
1. I spoke to him about it. This may not have fetched me much, but should the case have become legal, it will be on record that I knew what he was up to and called his attention to it. Denial will not be easy for him.
Or I could simply be telling him about it in the hope that he changes.
2. I documented a lot. I saved and printed the unsolicited rude messages I received. Again, for legal purposes.
3. Report. This I never did but will definitely do if the situation presents itself again. Who knows the number of people I will be saving by doing so. I have learnt that the worst that can happen is to lose the job. Jobs are being lost daily anyway.
The documented evidences over time will come in handy here.
4. Leave. In my case, I couldn’t take it to the HR because of his level and whatever loyalists he had in HR. The story could have been flipped on me and I couldn’t bare to not have a job. (Now I know I will always get another or better still, start something on my own). So I kept quiet till miraculously, he was taken away/got carried away by some other conquest.
It is important that steps 1 and 2 are simultaneously. Steps 3 and 4 would come on the heels of the other if 1 and 2 have failed.
Should you want to take it further, enlist legal practitioners or seek assistance from relevant NGO.
Stand for what you believe in!
credit: Siju Yusuf
November 16, 2017
November 16, 2017