Sexual harassment is everyone’s issue. Just as poverty is not only an issue for the poor and racism is not only an issue for persons of color, sexual harassment affects everyone.
Sexual harassment can include sexually suggestive remarks, jokes, or gestures, displaying degrading pictures or objects, unnecessary physical contact such as touching, pinching, patting, and/or sexual demands.
Perception is key
Even if the intent is not to harass and offend, it is the person who is affected/offended that decides or determines if it is harassment.
The harm of harassment is most accurately measured by the impact it has on the person harassed, rather than by the intent of the one who harassed or by the type of harassment committed.
Who can experience sexual harassment?
Anyone, young or old, male or female. Like any type of harassment, sexual harassment is an abuse of power in order to control another. A man may experience sexual harassment, but the vast majority of victims are women.
Sexual harassment can take place in offices, schools, stores, work places, on the bus, at social gatherings, in churches, in community settings. How we dress does not necessarily protect us from harassment. A woman does not ask to be sexually harassed by wearing a skirt nor can she stop it by wearing pants. Flirting and sexual harassment are not the same.
People who are being sexually harassed find it demeaning and want it to stop! According to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, 90% of all women working outside of the home will experience sexual harassment at some point in their working lives.
For more information, contact the Canadian Human Rights Commission, http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca.