Recent incidents involving women facing sexual harassment in their workplace or in public spaces have once again highlighted the urgent need for awareness, action, and legal protection.
Here we will discuss the laws pertaining to women facing harassment while working or in public areas, offer advice on how women can record or report such incidents, and address the importance of calling out unacceptable behaviour, citing recent high-profile cases as examples.
Understanding the Law
Sexual harassment is a violation of an individual’s rights, and various countries have enacted laws to protect women from such behavior. These laws typically define sexual harassment as any unwelcome advances, comments, or physical contact of a sexual nature that create a hostile or intimidating environment. While laws vary from country to country, common elements include:
- Workplace Protections: Most countries have workplace laws that explicitly prohibit sexual harassment. These laws require employers to maintain a safe and respectful work environment and to take action against harassers.
- Public Spaces: Sexual harassment in public spaces is also subject to laws and regulations. However, enforcement can be more challenging due to the absence of a specific workplace structure.
Recording and Reporting
In light of these laws, it’s essential for women to know how to respond to harassment:
- Document Incidents: When faced with harassment, try to document the incident as thoroughly as possible. This may include noting the date, time, location, the perpetrator’s description and any potential witnesses.
- Utilise Technology: Smartphone apps and wearable devices can help in recording audio and video evidence discreetly. Ensure you understand your local laws regarding recording conversations and use these tools responsibly.
- Report to Authorities: In cases of harassment, report the incident to the relevant authorities, such as the police or your workplace’s HR department. Provide them with the evidence you’ve gathered.
- Seek Legal Assistance: If the harassment persists or the response from authorities is inadequate, consider consulting a lawyer who specializes in workplace harassment or discrimination cases.
The Power of Calling Out Unacceptable Behavior
Recent events, including the incident involving journalist Isa Balado and the case of Luis Rubiales in Spain, underscore the importance of confronting and calling out inappropriate behavior:
- Isa Balado’s Case: Isa Balado’s response to the harasser during her live broadcast demonstrated resilience and empowered her to expose the harasser’s actions. By speaking up, she set an example for others to follow.
- Luis Rubiales Incident: The resignation of Luis Rubiales as the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation due to his inappropriate kiss serves as a powerful reminder that even those in influential positions are not above the law. Women’s rights must be upheld and respected by all.
Women have the right to work and live without the fear of sexual harassment. By understanding the laws, documenting incidents, reporting them to authorities, and calling out unacceptable behavior, women can take a stand against harassment and contribute to a safer and more respectful society. The recent incidents involving Isa Balado and Luis Rubiales highlight the need for continued advocacy and awareness in the fight against sexual harassment. Together, we can create a world where every woman feels safe and empowered.