Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sexual Harrassment at Work - What Has Been Your Experience?

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By Thelma Nwando

This morning I received a mail from one of our readers. She told me she quit her job a couple of weeks back because her boss was persistently sexually harassing her. My first thought was I hope she had another job waiting when she left that one because we all know how difficult it is to come by jobs these days. But then I once left a job for that same reason.
It got really tiring; someone trying to fondle my boobs as 'good morning', grabbing me and trying to kiss me on the lips at any given opportunity, grabbing or smacking my bum when no one was looking, sending pornographic pictures and videos to my inbox and bbm, sending me very sexually explicit messages of what he'd want to do to me, asking me to accompany him for meetings but afterwards making a detour and stopping at a secluded place where I'd have to fight him off while still trying to respect him as the boss.

At some point going to work became very dreadful. And there's not much you can do about it when it's a sole proprietorship so it became sink or swim. It's either you sit, grin and bear it or take a walk. I'd tried the former but eventually did the latter.

I remember reading an open letter by a former staff of one travel agency in Lagos last year. From the response it got it was obvious that it was a regular thing there. All the bosses were in on it, and the minute you as much as complained about it you were fired for misconduct or incompetence or something like that. It was just a story till my brother's girlfriend was fired from that same company for that same thing. One of the bosses was harassing her and when she made the mistake of reporting to another, the next thing she knew was she received a letter basically terminating her employment.

Most of my working friends have been sexually harassed by a boss at least once in their careers so how come nobody is talking about this? How come these bullies are allowed to do as they please, take advantage of a bad situation (no jobs) and subject women to discomfort and harassment at the workplace? Why aren't there strict laws put in place just like in the US? Why aren't there enforced sanctions that deter a boss from as much as looking at you the wrong way. Why don't things like this matter? How come no one cares to talk about it?

BTW when that girl sent the open letter last year it was astounding to see the negative reaction she received from the public in general. It was heartbreaking to say the least.

One more thing. Men get sexually harassed by female bosses as well and that is equally disgusting and unacceptable.

Have you been sexually harassed by a boss?
How did you handle it?
Is it wise to report a boss that's sexually harassing you?
If you've reported a boss that was sexually harassing you what happened afterwards?
Will you leave your dream/extremely well paying job because you're being sexually harassed by a superior at work?

Have you ever sexually harassed a subordinate at work?

First published at Thelmathinks






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