Sexual harassment is a widespread problem that brings about negative physical and psychological effects on whoever falls victim to it. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), one in three women and one in six men have experienced some form of molestation at least once in their lives. While great strides such as the #MeToo Movement have been made to put an end to this type of sex discrimination, the battle of completely eradicating all forms of sexual misconduct has yet to be won.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is legally defined as unwanted sexual advances directed towards an individual. This includes but is not limited to catcalling, touching, making inappropriate jokes, and asking for sexual favors from nonconsenting persons. Both physical and verbal misdemeanor of a sexual nature is considered a violation against Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, religion, and race, among others.
A number of deeply ingrained societal factors such as cultural norms and the idea of male entitlement have put women at a higher risk for sexual harassment. The likelihood of being subject to abuse as a woman is around 60 percent, while the chances for men to go through the same are found to be less than 20 percent. Nonetheless, no gender is immune to experiencing sexual harassment.
Common Acts of Sexual Harassment
The most typical types of sexual harassment are as follows:
- Gender Harassment: insulting remarks, making innuendos, sexist jokes
- Seductive Behavior: sending lewd letters, inappropriate invitations
- Sexual Imposition: grabbing, touching, rubbing, sexual assault
Acts of sexual harassment may be legally categorized either as quid pro quo or hostile work environment sexual harassment. The former is characterized by sexual bribery or coercion as the perpetrator asks for sexual favors in exchange for career advancement or preventing wrongful termination.
In a recent national survey, 13 percent of women and 5 percent of men in the workforce have reported against quid pro quo sexual harassment. Although these numbers may not seem to be alarming, it is essential to note that victims of such abuse file complaints only 30 percent of the time, as cited by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
On the other hand, a hostile work environment is less straightforward and much harder to prove. It involves persistent gender harassment and other undesired sexual behaviors that result in making the victim feel unsafe and otherwise in no shape to be productive in the workplace.
Minor infractions such as communicating distasteful jokes are punishable by law if proven to have occurred consistently for a significant amount of time. On the other hand, severe acts like assault only need to happen once to be met with repercussions. Almost 20 percent of American employees have been exposed to a hostile work environment rooted in sexual harassment.
Where Does Sexual Harassment Usually Occur?
Men and women experience sexual harassment in a variety of places. Incidents of sexual harassment can occur in public areas, mass transportation vehicles, at home, and in the workplace.
Sexual Harassment in Public Places
Men and women cite public places as the most common area where they encounter sexual harassment, coming up in 51 percent of the total answers in a 2018 survey. Sixty-five percent of American women have been sexually harassed on the street. In Los Angeles, 20 percent of public transport consumers reported feeling unsafe in transit to their homes or jobs due to unwanted sexual attention.
Sexual Harassment in ‘Safe Spaces’
While it is expected to encounter some form of sexual harassment in open locations, these forms of abuse can still occur in so-called ‘safe spaces’ such as health care facilities and places of worship. Female nurses and interns navigate their way through a male-dominated field, leaving 30 percent of their populace scarred by sexual bribery and gender harassment. Meanwhile, four percent of females and two percent of males have reported incidents of molestation in religious institutions. Thirty-five percent of women and 13 percent of men have also experienced abuse in their residences.
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
According to the EEOC, up to 85 percent of women have fallen victim to sexual harassment while at their jobs. A recent poll by a respected news outlet reported that over 33 million American women had encountered physical or verbal sexual harassment in the workplace. When asked about their harasser, 30 percent said it was a male coworker while 25 percent admitted that someone with higher authority did it.
Sexual Harassment Reports vs. Actual Incidents
As troubling as the reality that these statistical reports present, it does not reflect the total number times sexual harassment occurs in everyday life. Some victims may pass off their experiences as trivial or mere friendly banter when they are not well-versed on what constitutes sexual harassment. The EEOC found that the number of victims climbed from 25 percent to 60 percent when specific acts of harassment were mentioned.
Only ten percent of women and five percent of men report abuse to the police or other authorities despite already being sure that they were being maltreated. This low number of reports is due to several reasons, including fear of workplace retaliation. Some victims would opt to avoid the inconvenience of reporting the incident, while some choose to remain silent because they think they would not be taken seriously or that nothing will come out of their complaints.
Seek Assistance from Expert Sexual Harassment Attorneys
Sexual harassment is a serious matter and should never be tolerated. If you are a victim of sexually charged physical or verbal abuse, you have the right to claim for damages and seek justice. At Mesriani Law Group, we understand how painful it is to have to relive your bad experiences so that you can see your harasser face the consequences of his or her actions. That is why we house the most brilliant sexual harassment lawyers who will lead your case with compassion and competence. Contact our law firm today for a free legal consultation and enjoy our No Win No Fee policy to get the best legal service in Los Angeles.