With the different forms of sexual harassment and assault emerging nowadays, people are taking these issues seriously. It is necessary to be aware of the rights and options to speak up against these increasing societal problems.
You must have heard of the #MeToo movement that unmasked numerous harassment and assault cases. Many confidential cases were highlighted with high media attention, and everyone saw prominent industries’ ugly side.
So, before searching for the, go through this guide to know about your rights and options.
Harassment and assault have many different forms and involve a professor, staff, coach, family member, or co-worker.
Assault is violent body invasion or bodily harm that leads to psychological and emotional trauma. Rape, inappropriate touching, groping, forcing someone to perform a sexual act, penetrating(also with an object) are all parts of sexual assault.
Harassment ranges from gesturing, touching, using sexual factors for favors, and inappropriate jokes. Unlike assault, harassment is not always sexual, and it involves teasing, offensive comments, and intimidating. It also includes bullying someone based on their gender identity or sexual orientation, like lesbian, gay, bisexual, etc. In this, the person sexually harassing might be or might not be sexually attracted to the victim.
Here are some examples of sexual harassment:
- Getting continuous requests for sexual favors from someone (could be a teacher, student, or a colleague)
- Inappropriate comments targeting you or someone else
- Lewd comments about someone’s appearance and body
- Targeting someone’s gender identity or sexuality and making fun or passing inappropriate comments.
- Using slurs that are either gender-based or sexuality-based.
- Massaging, kissing, or touching someone inappropriately without their consent
- Leering, staring, or making gestures to make fun of someone’s sexual nature
- Physically threatening or intimidating someone by blocking their movement etc.
- Showing someone vulgar pictures and porn against their will
The first step to fight against any assault or harassment is by knowing your rights. It is important to be familiar with the basic laws about sexual assault to help yourself and others in such situations.
Have a look at some of the most fundamental rights:
No matter your sexual orientation or identity, you have the right to work in a safe environment. Your employer has to provide an environment that is free of assault and harassment for all the workers.
All the schools and institutions have to provide a safe learning environment for students. It has to be free from any harassment, violence, or intimidation.
If a child reports a sexual assault case in the school and no legal action is taken on time. It is better to start looking for a legal advocate. Institutions are bound by law to take action against inappropriate events harming the students. You can sue them if they are not acting against these severe issues.
or assault in schools or offices. You can also act against any policy at a place that harms the survivors of sexual assault.
You can speak out about sexual harassment even if it is happening with someone else. It is illegal if the employer retaliates for talking about assault and harassment with co-workers.
You have the right to know about your workplace harassment policy, including the procedure to file a report.
You have the right to testify as a witness or willingly participate in an investigation. No one can stop you or retaliate against you if you decide to support someone filing a complaint about sexual harassment and assault.
If you get fired or punished for doing anything mentioned above, you can hire a lawyer and take action against the institution or company. You can also file a complaint if someone threatens to cut your pay, demoting, changing your shifts, or doing anything that adversely affects you.
If you are someone facing sexual assault, here are some things you can do to stop it from happening.
- The first thing you can do is ask the person responsible for stopping. If you find it too dangerous, avoid taking this step.
- Look at the complaint procedure and policies of the institution or company.
- Write all your experiences down and make sure all the details are on point.
- Report the assault to a senior, and you can do it anonymously as well.
- In case the institution is not taking timely action, file a complaint with the government agency.
- Talk to a lawyer to find out all the options you have and get proper advice and assistance.
For victims of assault and harassment at workplaces and institutions to contact an attorney to know about your rights in detail.