Sexual Harassment in the Philippines: What It Is and What You Should Do August 22, 2008Posted by dapinoyemployee in Da Pinoy Employee, Working with Bosses and Officemates.
Tags: sexual harassment in the philippines, sexual harassment in the workplace, what to do in case of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment can be a tricky thing to prove. While it’s a recognized threat in the workplace, very few are willing to come out and complain. Find out what you can do about sexual harassment in case it happens in your office:
What is sexual harassment?
As defined by the Philippine Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, sexual harassment is “a request for a sexual favor, accepted or not, from an employer, employee, manager, teacher, instructor, professor, coach, trainer or other persons who have authority, influence or moral ascendancy over another.” It is committed by anyone who demands a sexual favor in exchange for work, promotion or other privileges.
The Sexual Harassment Act not only covers those who are directly involved but also those who cooperate “in the commission of” the violation.
Sexual harassment can take several forms. If you’re the object of attention, you could be at the receiving end of malicious stares, jokes, comments, notes, letters, graffiti or physical contact.
What to do in case of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment can be difficult to prove, especially if it becomes a he said/she said event. To make sure you protect yourself, do the following:
Say ‘No’ or ‘Stop it’ firmly and loud enough for someone to hear.
If there are potential witnesses, reject the advances through a firm but polite refusal. Unless you’ve been harassed many times before, don’t make the first offense a sideshow.
Express your objection to the person’s behavior clearly and firmly but avoid making too much fuss about it. Saying ‘Stop it!’ in a loud, shrilly voice or screaming at the top of your lungs might be viewed as proof that you’re a hysterical person.
In case of an investigation, you might come off as unreliable or worse, prone to exaggeration. Remember that you might be dealing with a sneaky person who can dismiss your complaint as an exaggerated reaction.
Express your disapproval and be clear about it. If the person asks you why, tell them it makes you uncomfortable and you don’t think it’s appropriate behavior. Don’t smile and don’t apologize, either. You’ll come off as weak and unconvincing.
Document the event/s.
Write down the date, time, place and witnesses to the incident in detail. Use a journal or a notebook and keep it in a safe place. In case you have to file for a complaint later, this will come in handy as evidence. If the harassment escalates, you can also show the journal or notebook to your supervisor.
Inform someone about what happened.
Tell your closest confidant or friend at the office. If the incident involved touching, violence, psychological or physical threats, do the same and then go to your manager or supervisor. In his absence, talk to the HR person immediately. Don’t turn the incident into office gossip, however. If you must inform anyone, make sure they are either a person of authority or someone who could become a reliable witness for you.
File a complaint.
Chances are, your company has policies regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. Check your company manual or go to HR to make sure you make the right steps. They should be able to help you resolve this problem.
If your case is ignored and you wish to pursue it, then you might want to go to the police and file a report. Be prepared for a more taxing process, though. If you want justice, you’ll need a lawyer and the judicial procedures can take a while.
What does Philippine law say about sexual harassment? Here’s a link to a resource you might find useful:
What’s your story?
Do you have a tip to help others who have experienced sexual harassment? Share it here. Sexual harassment is still a threat. The best way to fight it is to arm men and women with the right knowledge and access to the right resources.