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Sexual Harassment Is The Top Safety Issue For Women In The Workforce

When women have to carry pepper sprays and rape whistles, fear walking down the streets at night, and walk on opposite sides of the street to avoid a group of men, it shows that women are facing safety issues.

Safety has become a rising issue for women. Sexual harassment is one of the main causes of safety issues in women.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. It not only denotes a sexual act but also any offensive remarks on the basis of the sexes. Harassment can take verbal or written, physical, nonverbal, and visual forms.

Verbal or written sexual harassment includes making derogatory comments about the clothing, behavior, or body of an individual. Quid pro quo, signifying “this for that” in Latin, is a form of harassment. An individual may be demanded for sexual favors in exchange for benefits, such as promotions or pay raises.

I man is grabbing a woman's arm forcefully. Physical harassment is one of many safety issues for women.
Source: Timothy Hale | U.S.Army

Physical harassment includes unwanted and/or inappropriate touching of the person’s body or clothing.

Nonverbal harassment consists of making derogatory looks or gestures. Another form of sexual harassment is hostile work environment. A work environment is considered hostile if an employee loses his or her ability to work due to frequent sexual advances or comments.

Two male co-workers are verbally harassing a female co-worker.
Source: Mohamed Hassan | PxHere

In the workplace, 25% of women experience some form of sexual harassment. However, between 87% to 94% of the cases are not reported. Much of the abuse is unreported due to the fear of retaliation on the victim. Women fear that they will be fired if they report the incident to the company.

As a result of sexual harassment, some women give up their opportunities for career advancement. They may quit or change jobs in order to avoid the perpetrator. However, the financial costs are not the only detrimental effects of the victims. They also become prone to experiencing problems with mental and physical health. They are at greater risks of experiencing depression.

Surprisingly, sexual harassment can in turn negatively affect the companies, too. When victims begin to miss work or quit, the company can no longer work efficiently. Additionally, when victims take legal action against the companies, they will have to pay the costs. However, the financial damage to the companies cannot be compared to the damage that has been done to the victims.

Women also fear sexual harassment when they are on business trips. In order to mitigate risks in other cities, women regularly communicate with coworkers, family, and/or friends. They also book known and entrusted hotels.

Future initiatives should include companies educating their workers on gendered issues. They should also provide safety resources for women, such as an emergency contact or hotline for the workers. Women should feel safe no matter where they are.

By: Kahyun Kim

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