Reporting Sexual Harassment
One of the main obstacles
to understanding the true prevalence of sexual harassment and to combating
the problem is the low incidence of reporting.
It is well known that even
in countries in which sexual harassment is a legally-recognized problem,
most victims do not speak out. Research indicates that there are three
main reasons why women do not report sexual harassment.
Women often believe that
no one will do anything about the problem. If women are harassed in
an organization and the leadership of the organization does not speak
out against that harassment, does not institute procedures for reporting
harassment, or does not act quickly on reports of harassment, most victims
will be discouraged from acting.
are afraid they will be blamed. "Blaming the victim" has
historically been a strategy in countering rape charges. Women are
told they "invited" the rape or harassment by their dress
or demeanor. Because women see this happen to others they have good
reason to believe it will also happen to them. In the United States,
the treatment of Anita Hill
by the Senate Judicial Committee was a strong lesson to women- not only
that they won't be believed, but also that they will be blamed.
often do not want to hurt the harasser. This reason derives partly
from the traditional saying "boys will be boys,” which is used
as an excuse for inappropriate behavior by males. Girls are taught
to keep silent and to overlook bad behavior by boys. Carol Gilligan's
research indicates that women think about the possible negative consequences
to all persons involved. The negative consequences to the harasser
may not be inconsequential.
many women have little choice about where they work, they find it necessary
to put up with a situation that they feel they cannot change. "What
can't be cured must be endured" is too often the case with victims
of sexual harassment.
from: Penn State University Delaware Campus Information On Sexual Harassment site, Background
victims of sexual harassment often feel that there are many reasons
not to report an incident, successful employment policies take into
consideration victims’ reluctance to speak out.
of sexual harassment begins with the creation of internal processes
by which employees can report to their employer. Sample
reporting guidelines that are being used in various countries
should be consulted when creating company-specific policies.