I hosted a panel discussion for my forum: Women Rising Nigeria. It was an open discussion about how to address sexual harassment in the workplace. It was held at Box Office Hub. For our speakers, we had an HR Professional, Deborah Akingboye, a Clinical Psychologist, Folajaiye Kareem and a Legal Practitioner, Busola Beckley. If you were unable to attend the discussion, here is some information on what was discussed.
What Is Sexual Harassment In the Workplace?
Sexual Harassment is any inappropriate and unwanted advance. It can happen to both women and men. Sexual harassment in the workplace and involve intimidation and threats of job loss if the perpetrator is not given what they want.
How Can Sexual Harassment be Addressed At Work?
If one believes that they are being harassed in the workplace, they can take the issue to their HR Professional. You would need to find out the HR policies for addressing sexual harassment.
In the case that it is not possible to take the issue up with an HR Professional, the individual can go to a supervisor. It is necessary that one documents the act of harassment. Take notes of when it occurs. Record it if possible.
It also matters to confront who you believe to be harassing you. Confrontation is significant because not everyone is aware of what harassment means. After you have confronted the person, you can still document or record the incident, just in case it needs to be taken up further.
What does Nigeria’s Legal System Say About Harassment In the Workplace?
The lawyer informed attendees that Nigeria’s judicial system does not have a law in place to protect citizens from harassment in the workplace. However, we all have a right to make our judicial system accountable for protecting our rights. It is possible to make an attempt and write to your National Assembly to appeal for this needed change.
How Can A Survivor of Sexual Harassment Move On?
The Clinical Psychologist addressed the mental effects of harassment. Those who are harassed can suffer from low self-esteem. They can feel withdrawn and not want to aspire high. They might want to isolate themselves.
It’s important that these individuals be encouraged to live a lifestyle that will inspire hope in them. They need to seek counsel from family, friends or through therapy. They should also try to find humanitarian support groups where they will be in a safe space to discuss any issues they might be facing.
What Can We All Do To Be More Vocal About Sexual Harassment & Stop It From Happening?
In order for individuals to be more vocal about sexual harassment, we discussed the need for people to know that it is okay to speak up. They need to know that they will be heard. This applies to women and men. It is okay to be vocal.
We discussed the need for advocacy and awareness. More people need to be aware of what harassment is and what needs to be done.
In order to eradicate the issue, we discussed how it should start from the home. Parents need to speak to their children about gender violence. They need to inform their children about what is right and wrong in how they approach others and how others approach them.
What more needs to be done to address sexual harassment at the workplace?
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