What is sexual harassment?

We hear a lot about sexual harassment. About how to avoid it. About what to  do if it happens. But rarely do we hear what really constitutes sexual harassment; it’s just assumed that everyone knows what it is.

This is an excerpt from the Australia Human Rights Commission website and it’s worth a read so you can be in the know:

Do you know what sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour, which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.

Sexual harassment is not interaction, flirtation or friendship which is mutual or consensual.

Sexual harassment is a type of sex discrimination.

The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) makes sexual harassment unlawful in some circumstances.

Despite being outlawed for over 25 years, sexual harassment remains a problem in Australia.

Sexual harassment disproportionately affects women with 1 in 5 experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace at some time. However, 1 in 20 men also report experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace.[1]

Identifying sexual harassment

Sexual harassment can take many different forms – it can be obvious or indirect, physical or verbal, repeated or one-off and perpetrated by males and females against people of the same or opposite sex.

Sexual harassment may include:

– staring or leering

– unnecessary familiarity, such as deliberately brushing up against you or unwelcome touching

– suggestive comments or jokes

– insults or taunts of a sexual nature

– intrusive questions or statements about your private life

– displaying posters, magazines or screen savers of a sexual nature

– sending sexually explicit emails or text messages

– inappropriate advances on social networking sites

– accessing sexually explicit internet sites

– requests for sex or repeated unwanted requests to go out on dates

– behaviour that may also be considered to be an offence under criminal law, such as physical assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, stalking or obscene communications.

You can find more information about sexual harassment from the Australian Human Rights Commission here.