What is sexual harassment, and how can you deal with it?
The South African government’s Code of Good Practice on Sexual Harassment defines sexual harassment as unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. The unwanted nature of sexual harassment separates it from behaviour that is welcome and mutual.
- How do I know it is sexual harassment?
- What are the different forms of sexual harassment?
- Where can sexual harassment occur?
- What can I do if I’ve experienced sexual harassment?
- What can I do if I see sexual harassment happening?
- Know your rights
What are the different forms of sexual harassment?
Some forms of sexual harassment include:
- Unwanted touching or physical contact (e.g. an arm around the shoulder; a hand placed on a thigh or another part of the body; standing up against someone after being told to move away);
- Being subjected to a strip search in the presence of someone of the opposite sex.
- Cat calling – whistling, yelling sexually suggestive comments, usually at a stranger;
- Unwanted flirting;
- Jokes referring to sexual acts and/or sexual orientation;
- Unwelcome graphic comments about a person’s body (e.g. “Look at those sexy legs” “Nice rack” “I like a curvy woman”);
- Unwelcome and inappropriate enquiries about a person’s sex life;
- Sexual favours – asking for sexual favours from a co-worker or peer;
- Other sexual advancements.
- Unwelcome gestures of a sexual nature – looking someone up and down in a way that makes that person feel uncomfortable, blocking someone’s path;
- Indecent exposure (e.g. “flashing”);
- Unwelcome display and/or sharing of sexually explicit pictures and objects.
Quid pro Quo – Something for Something
- When an owner, employer, supervisor, member of management or co-employee influences conditions of employment or advancement in exchange for sexual favours, either explicitly or implicitly – this may include: access to training opportunities; consideration for employment, promotion and/or salary increase, and dismissal/disciplinary proceedings.