'I was just trying to keep my job' - women on fighting sexual harassment at work

Clinical sexologist Dr Eve says South African organisations aren't doing enough to fight sexual harassment in the workplace, one year after the #MeToo movement.

The #MeToo movement is an international campaign against sexual harassment and assault which began spreading online a year ago.

Survivors used the hashtag on social media to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual harassment and abuse.

Read: 10 misconceptions about sex that thwart consent (and some complicated scenarios)

Dr Eve says that sexual harassment is any unwanted attention of a sexual nature that takes place in the workplace.

It entails performing sexual favours in exchange for keeping your job or getting a promotion, she explains.

Sexual harassment exists in male-dominated organisations, where sexism, gender inequality, toxic masculinity, cultures of aggression and competitiveness are rife.

Also read: How the #MeToo movement is changing approaches to dating and sex

Dr Eve says inappropriate sexual jokes, unwanted comments or touching and gestures are no longer acceptable in the workplace.

Sadly, women often face backlash for reporting sexual harassment in the workplace.

They are often stigmatised and slut-shamed, they have their characters assassinated and are subjected added trauma.

Read more: Grant Thornton CEO Paul Badrick steps aside amid sexual harassment probe

Dr Eve maintains that hiring and promoting more women in leadership positions can help tackle sexual harassment.

She says organisations have the responsibility to create safe environments.

This can be done through initiatives such as effective anti-harassment training, setting up an anonymous reporting mechanism to a third party and creating a zero tolerance culture

I've spent this year travelling the country doing sexual harassment workshops for NGOs and parastatals and I'm amazed to see how little is being done in management, in terms of policies, and in training people how to manage sexual harassment in the workplace.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

There is a conspiracy of silence that men support each other.... [Women] are the ones who get punished when they present the complaint. They are the ones who get kicked out their jobs and can't find a job afterwords.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

Many people don't understand what sexual harassment is and what their rights are.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

Listeners called in to share their experiences of sexual harassment in different institutions.

You get called crazy, psychotic, and you're told you're trying to ruin the reputation of a good man. It's all about the perpetrator and not you or your discomfort.

Jean, caller

I was the PA to the boss and slowly every day he would make [inapporiate] comments in meetings or play with his crotch area. You begin to think you're going crazy... All I was trying to do was to keep my job.

Eve, caller

He has been hitting on me since I started working on me 10 years ago, but I kept ignoring it... After I told him I was not interested, he sent me material of a sexual nature... I no longer enjoy coming to work.

Nokukhanya, caller

Visit Dr Eve's website to learn more.

Listen to the Talking Sex feature on The Eusebius McKaiser Show:


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