Importance of Education to prevent sexual harassment in University
Many of you will strive to share joyful and meaningful experiences with your beloved ones, your friends, and fellow students in your department at social occasions, in classrooms, and in your laboratories. But not all relationships and meetings turn out to be pleasant experiences. In particular, sexual remarks and actions can be even trickier. Moreover, in our society still remains gender stereotypes and double standards.
Sexual remarks and actions asserting one’s own desires before others’ intentions without adequate communication and consideration of others’ feelings could be very unpleasant and insulting to others. In universities, sexual harassment and violence can be especially destructive since it can cause a victim to avoid any activities concerning their school work and club activities, which in turn hinders normal campus life. We can make our campus life more exuberant and less discriminatory by paying attention to what sexual harassment is, what connections sexual harassment and our daily lives have, and what we can do to change and prevent it.
What is Sexual Harassment?
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is defined as any behavior including verbal and nonverbal actions, that may take place in social settings such as workplace, public entity, and school, that arouses sexual humiliation to other individual as well as violates their right to work and education. Sexual harassment is a broad concept ranging from sexual objectification, dirty jokes, forced dates to graver crimes such as sexual molestation and rape. Sexual comment and conduct can be sexual harassment when it is imposed on a person as a condition for advantages or disadvantages in employment, work, and school. They can also be considered sexual harassment when those acts form a hostile environment. Sexual harassment is derived from convergence of gender discrimination and unequal power relations. Prevention of sexual harassment is crucial in order to reduce gender and sexual discrimination within corporate life and to establish equality in work and educational environments.
A number of European countries interpret sexual harassment in a broad manner; it is “gender harassment” abusing someone based on gender differences. In fact, the term “harassment” is close to “annoyance.”
Seoul National University Regulation defines sexual harassment as following:
Statute regarding prevention and treatment of sexual harassment and violence Article 2, Section1.
Sexual harassment is any conduct which brings others sexual humiliation and aversion, regardless of whether the conduct constitutes sexual crime or not, according to the reasonable judgement of the victim. It includes the following:
1. Verbal, mental, physical conduct which infringes on individual sexual independence by means of demanding sexual conduct which was not mutually agreed in advance
2. Conduct of giving disadvantage in academic evaluation, employment, and/or promotion due to noncompliance to the conduct described in secion1, or gender differences.
3. Conduct which constructs unfair environment based on gender differences
4. Conduct of one who sympathized with the assailant, which causes considerable damage to the victim by means of mental intimidation, physical coercion or any other means.
The factor that is considered the most important when identifying sexual harassment is what consequences and influence the conduct had on the victim, rather than its intentionality. If a sexual conduct seems to have caused aversion and humiliation in the victim’s reasonable judgement, then it can be identified as sexual harassment. Moreover, certain habitual sexual conduct can cause sexual humiliation and aversion to others even if it was not intended. Therefore, it is important to monitor one’s own conduct not to cause any affliction upon others.
It is important to strongly express your opinion in order to avoid further aggravation of sexual harassment, when you consider a conduct as sexual harassment. Always remember that silence towards unpleasant sexual conduct upon yourself can cause further misunderstanding, so it is advisable to firmly express your disapproval. Tolerating sexual harassment worrying that the other person might be embarrassed or that the relationship might get awkward will not be beneficial at all for both parties. Rather, more sincere consideration is to stop the wrong conduct before it becomes a bigger mistake.
However, in most cases, it is hard to express immediate disapproval or denial because of power relations and/or intimacy. Even if you were not able to express immediate denial at the time, you should remember that you can bring up the problem at any time, when needed, to professional organization such as sexual harassment and sexual violence counselling centers.
Types of sexual harassment
Following verbal, visual, physical conduct can be considered as sexual harassment.
1. Repeating derogatory and obscene remarks, or offensive sexist remarks
2. Spreading rumors about others’ sexual relationship or sex life
3. Habitually uttering sexual analogy or evaluating others’ appearance
4. Remarks that promote sexual objectification
5. Closely looking upon other person’s specific part of body or blatantly looking up and down
6. Deliberately exposing or touching one’s particular body part in front of others.
7. Publishing obscene painting, drawing, or pictures that are not related to work or education
8. Offending others by sending pornographic pictures, photos through e-mail.
9. Forcing someone to sit next to himself/herself and/or pour drinks in social meetings within department, club, etc
10. Harassing others via phone or e-mail regardless of others’ intentions.
11. Attempting unwanted physical contact, like asking for a massage or caress.
12. Requiring sexual encounter or relationship in return for an advantage or by intimidating that they will give the person a disadvantage in work or class
13. Attempting or practicing sexual molestation or rape.
“Sexual violence” and “sexual harassment”
Sexual violence and sexual harassment have in common the fact that it is a conduct which damages the victim by means of unwanted sexual conduct. Since sexual violence that occurs between members of workplace or school not only infringes upon the individual’s sexual independence but also influences employment and education environment, it is said to violate the sexual harassment prohibition statutes. If the conduct constitutes ‘sexual crime’ such as rape and other kinds of sexual assault, the offender is subject to criminal penalties, as well as being disciplined in a concerned organization.
However, according to the country’s laws, the target of sexual harassment regulations is restricted to employers, employees and personnel who work in business or public institutions, therefore sexual violence which occurred in many kinds of personal relationship is not regulated.
Prevention and Taking Actions against Sexual Harassment
Prevention and Taking Actions against Sexual Harassment
Everyone says that sexual harassment and sexual violence is a “bad conduct”, but not everyone perceives sexual harassment and sexual violence as “self-evident” conduct. Many researches show that, people have different opinions as for what can be considered as sexual harassment. For instance, women and men has generally shown different opinions from each other by far.
Therefore, even if you did not intend to commit sexual harassment, there are often cases where your habitual conduct can cause sexual humiliation and aversion upon victims of sexual harassment. How can we prevent this unfortunate situation? It begins with your small practices.
· Accept that your colleagues are independent human beings with dignity and human rights, and respect differences that might exist between you and your colleagues.
· Be careful not to meddle too much with the appearance and privacy of your colleagues. Also, try not to force gender roles and you should not objectify others as a means of sexual satisfaction.
· Avoid unnecessary physical contact. Ask that person before committing any conduct that could be deemed as invading their privacy.
· Respect others’ independent decision. Do not arbitrarily misinterpret their unclear response as approval or acceptance.
· If other colleagues strongly disagree with a certain conduct, perceive it as a refusal and stop it immediately.
· Remember that silence towards unpleasant sexual conducts upon yourself can cause further misunderstanding. Do not hesitate to express your disapproval and uncomfortable feelings.
· Tolerating sexual harassment, worrying that the other person might be embarrassed or that the relationship might get awkward, is not beneficial at all; rather, the best thing to do is to make that person stop the wrong conduct before the problem gets more serious.
1. Clearly express your refusal. Stating your thoughts straightforwardly can prevent a distortion of communication and help stop the unwanted conduct. Displaying unpleasant look or leaving the place could be a way, but these reactions are often too deter sexual harassment. Therefore, it is necessary to express your intentions in a clear manner.
2. Stop the conduct via verbal and/or written statement. If the damage of sexual harassment continues, require them to cease the conduct. You can state your opinions directly or through agents by means of letter. When writing a letter, describe the conduct of the offender according to 5W1H rule (Who, What, When, Where, How, Why). Describe how the conduct makes you uncomfortable and why it is disturbing. Then ask the person to stop it. When writing a letter, it is recommended to make a copy and to send it via registered mail service which the post office can attest the fact that it was sent.
3. Secure the evidence of record and circumstances of the case accurately. Once sexual harassment occurred, it is important to note down the date, time, place, specific conduct, witnesses, your experience and feeling, and consequences of the events in case of officially raising the issue.
4. Consult someone you trust and a counselling center to discuss formal and informal procedures to solve the problem. When it is difficult to talk directly with the offender in person, ask for help to a friend or seniors. But it is recommended to first contact the Sexual Harassment and Violence Counseling Line (880-2424~5) on campus and inquire what measures could be taken in your particular situation. When informal means does not help resolve the problem, report the case and find remedies through the formal procedure according to relevant school regulations.
5. In urgent situations, immediately report to the police and visit medical institutions. When it is difficult for you to deal with the situation by yourself, immediately ask for help to the police (dial 112) or to the Women’s Emergency Hot Line (dial 1366). When harmed by rape, immediately go to a medical institution and make sure to receive a medical certificate after a check-up and treatment. The clothes and evidence of the situation should be put in a paper bag rather than a plastic bag.
When you became an offender of sexual harassment and violence
When revealed as the offender of sexual harassment, the offender can face serious distress. Regrets are already too late to fix the situation or to erase the pain of the victim. However, the opportunity to do better is always open to everyone. Offenders’ actions can either help the victims overcome the wounds and become a ‘survivor’, or may cause further problems. Put every effort to avoid making even more damage to the victim and reflect on your own conduct in order to prevent recurrence of such situation.
Admit your mistake and apologize rather than making excuses. Making excuses does not help anyone. Ask the victim how you could help them. Respect requests of the victim from a distance. If they do not want to meet you, you should not push them.
From the standpoint of third party (e.g., managers)
Resolving the problem of sexual harassment and violence depends a lot on the attitude of those around the victim and the offender. The third party scolding the victim and concealing the incident or denouncing the offender’s nature as a whole could further aggravate the situation, in fact. The third party who witnessed the incident must keep the following in mind:
When they hear about the case, they should not consider it as a ‘scandal’ or ‘commotion’ that damages their community. Rather, they should see it as an important problem that needs to be seriously addressed by the community as a whole.
Many of sexual harassment offenders are known for their personality, knowledge, reputation and many of them have a smooth interpersonal relationship within their communities. Refrain from saying things like “I knew it” and “No way!” Do not hastily jump to a conclusion based on your judgement of their usual habits and social status.
Those who are requested to be witnesses of an incident must not stand by one person or denounce the other, but cooperate in order to find the truth about the incident by faithfully witnessing the truth they know.
Agents to whom the victim directly asked for help should avoid making remarks that could arouse guiltiness of the victim. They must mentally support the victim by listening to them and believing them. The agents should help the victim find and access to appropriate information, and discuss with them about the order of the procedures that must be taken. It is also a part of their duty to accompany the victim to where they should visit (e.g., courts).
Why professors need to take the sexual harassment prevention education
Faculty often plays a role of moderator and authority in charge when sexual harassment occurs among students. Therefore it is important that they have decent awareness about the problem and know the procedures regarding prevention in dealing with the victims and offenders.
Things to have in mind for prevention of sexual harassment in daily life
1. Make sure you have a communication channel (e.g., e-mail) open to your students. It is also a good idea to ask your students to talk about conducts that they think might cause problem on the first day of class.
2. Refrain from unnecessary physical contacts, and always ask in advance when your conducts might intrude the other’s privacy.
3. Respect the thoughts and decisions of the other person. Do not arbitrarily misinterpret any unclear response as approval and acceptance.
4. If other people strongly disagree with a certain conduct, perceive it as a refusal and immediately stop the conduct.
Truths and Misconceptions about Sexual Harassment
Truths and misconceptions about sexual harassmentQ. Isn’t sexual harassment nothing more than a petty joke or nothing to take seriously?
A. No, it’s not. Victims of sexual harassment usually go through seriously negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, fear, and helplessness. They also suffer from destruction of self-esteem. Sexual harassments that occur between students and teachers, between seniors and juniors, and among classmates are a serious problem that leads one to the degradation of academic achievements and social activities.
Q. Is it better off just to ignore sexual harassment?
A. No, it’s not. Ignoring and simply bearing with it cannot be a fundamental solution to the problem. Sexual harassment could get worse as a result of the silence, avoidance, and ignorance, and this could cause further problems. Therefore, it is desirable to look straight to the problem and ask for help to people you trust as well as counselling centers
Q. Is intentionality of the offender more important that the harm victim got when deciding if a case is sexual harassment or not?
A. No, it’s not. The most important point to be considered when deciding what constitutes sexual harassment is the result and damage that the victim got from the conduct of the offender. Intentionality of the conduct is not the first consideration. In other words, any verbal or physical conduct that causes sexual humiliation and aversion to the victim can be deemed as sexual harassment
Q. Can you raise an issue as sexual harassment even if you were not able to clearly express clear your disapproval at the moment when it happened?
A. It is best to immediately ask to stop the conduct and express your disapproval once it is considered a sexual harassment. However, there are many cases when victims could not state their clear disapproval dependint on the context. Even if there was no clear disapproval, one should not arbitrarily misinterpret an unclear response as approval and acceptance. That is, the case can be raised as an issue at any time depending on the situation.
Q. Are only the incidents that happened during public affairs and work hours considered sexual harassment?
A. No. Sexual harassment is very likely to happen during after-work/class gatherings, field trip, and member trainings. Moreover, incidents that happened during personal appointments and meetings could affect public relationships, and cause problems in education, work, and social activities.
Q. Are there any male victims of sexual harassment?
A. Of course, yes. Even though most of the victims of sexual harassment has been women, men are estimated to account for 5-10% of the entire victims of sexual harassment.
Q. Is sexual harassment a private matter? Should it be solved on a personal level?
A. Sexual harassment should not be dismissed to the private sphere or simply a personal fault. Sexual harassment should be considered as a collective action which derives from the inequity in power. For example, tendency to consider women only as a sexual object acts as a crucial background factor for this problem. It is important to take this problem as a problem of the whole community, and collaborate to create equal sexual culture among us.
What is sexual violence?
What is sexual violence?Sexual violence is any kinds of mental, verbal, physical violence that infringes on an individual’s sexual independence, which goes against the will of that person.
When we think of sexual violence, we easily recall ‘rape’ or ‘indecent sexual acts’ which we refer to as ‘sexual assault’. Of course, these conducts are defined as criminal acts and are heavily punished by “Law on the Protection of Victims and the Punishment of Sexual Crimes”. However, sexual violence is not restricted to the criminal act defined by law. Recently, it is considered as a broader concept that includes mental, and verbal violence. Conducts that do not accompany physical contact could also be considered as sexual violence. For example, repeating offensive jokes that insult women, offending others by sending unrequested obscene pictures and photos through e-mail, and stalking others by phone and in person also account for sexual violence. To sum up, sexual violence does not always accompany physical coercion such as assault or intimidation. Sexual conducts, imposed without consent of the other person or done when the other party could not resist, are sexual violence.
Sexual violence is a conduct that infringes on others’ ‘sexual independence’. In modern society, every one of us have the right to choose the way of life we prefer, make relationships with people we want, and make independent sexual decisions. This right, called as ‘Sexual autonomy’ or ‘sexual self-determination’, is guaranteed by the Constitution and is one of the most fundamental right which lies in line of moral rights and pursuit of happiness. Causing pains to others by committing undesired sexual conducts is a violence that infringes on sexual independence.