The #MeToo campaign opened up the floodgates for women around the world to open up about their horrendous experiences with harassment in the workplace. The campaign also garnered attention in Pakistan, encouraging women to come forward. However, many victims are still confused, and oftentimes unable to identify offences due to lack of awareness and social conditioning which prevents them from vocalising what makes them uncomfortable. Let’s discuss some of the red flags which should immediately stand out to you.
You may be confused as to whether a co-worker is complimenting you, being friendly, or flat out flirting. There’s a fine line between the three which one may fail to realise. Compliments from an established friend at work may not stand out to you, but if you feel the niceties are unwarranted and are causing discomfort, it’s an alarming sign. Moreover, if someone at work is speaking to you in a manner you know they would never direct towards a male colleague, then this is a clear indication of harassment.
2. Inappropriate Physical Touch
One of the most traumatic forms of harassment is unnecessary or inappropriate touching. If you feel someone at your workplace tends to stand too close to you or touches you in a way that makes you feel uneasy, then girl it’s a worrying sign. Intentional physical contact without consent falls under the umbrella of physical harassment of a sexual nature. A touch like this can range from an aggressive shoulder patting to blatant sexual assault. The aim of such an action is to leave you feeling intimidated and demoralised. Make sure you report such actions immediately.
3. Crass Humour
Many laugh it off when someone at work cracks an inappropriate joke. But should you? As women, we’re taught to never raise offence and to be appeasing. Humour is supposed to be funny by definition, rather than make you or your gender feel personally attacked or harassed. If someone is sharing inappropriate jokes with you – don’t take them lightly, as this is part and parcel of verbal harassment, and you can either confront the person or report it to your supervisors.
Blatant staring is the most common type of non-verbal harassment. Almost every woman has experienced this sort of harrasment– not just at work, but literally everywhere. Unfortunately, most women ignore this sign for its apparent ‘harmless’ nature. But one’s good-natured resilience doesn’t make it acceptable. If you feel uneasy with someone constantly gawking at you inappropriately, it needs to be reported.
5. Threatening Behaviour
A hostile workplace where a colleague or a superior threatens their co-workers can take a heavy toll on one’s mental health.If you’re a victim of behaviour like this and have been threatened in some manner, even if you’re aware it’s an empty threat, you need to know that it’s a form of harassment. Threats can be of both a physical and verbal nature. Whatever the case may be, you need to report ASAP.