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Unveiling the veil: Exploring the depths of workplace harassment and its far-reaching consequences

Unveiling the veil: Exploring the depths of workplace harassment and its far-reaching consequences

Sofia suddenly became a shadow of herself about five months after she got hired into her dream company. She became withdrawn and no longer her vibrant self. All her excitement withered away. Her dream job became her worst nightmare. It became a veil over her spirit and soul. A veil yearning to be removed but the strength of her soul is too weak to pull the veil over her soul and spirit.

Her spirit and soul cried to be unveiled…

Why a lot of women are silent on workplace sexual harassment?

In the intricate tapestry of workplace dynamics, harassment stands as an undeniable stain, often concealed in the shadows of power dynamics and cultural norms. By definition, harassment manifests as unwelcome conduct rooted in a person’s race, colour, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. It goes beyond mere words, encompassing offensive jokes, objects, pictures, name-calling, physical assault, and threats.

Read also: Alleged sexual harassment: Army cautions Nigerians against hasty judgment

Delving into the essence of harassment, a crucial factor emerges – the unwelcome nature of the conduct. This characteristic becomes particularly pertinent in the context of sex-related workplace harassment, where deciphering mutual consent becomes a challenging endeavour.

Sex-related harassment, a prevalent form in the professional sphere, frequently sees the female gender as its unfortunate recipient, often at the hands of senior male colleagues. The gravity of these incidents necessitates that victims substantiate their claims with irrefutable evidence, such as recordings, witnesses, or other incontrovertible proof, to lend credence to the allegations. Even with such evidence, a comprehensive investigation remains imperative to ensure a fair and just resolution.

Compounding the challenge is the inherent power dynamic within workplaces. Victims, frequently intimidated into silence by those in positions of authority, find themselves grappling with the internal conflict of reporting harassment. This power play renders women more susceptible to workplace harassment than their male counterparts.

It is not uncommon for instances of harassment to go unreported, shrouded in a veil of fear and reluctance. Victims, burdened by feelings of withdrawal, moodiness, and a decline in morale, often remain silent until courage is found to speak out. This reticence may be attributed to cultural nuances that stigmatise victims of sex-related workplace harassment, perpetuating a culture of silence and shame.

Read also: A/Ibom: 10 convictions against sexual and gender based violence recorded in 2023

The revelation of workplace harassment and societal norms:

In most cases, the revelation of workplace harassment only comes to light when caught in the act, prompting subsequent investigations. However, the prevailing cultural norms make it challenging for victims to willingly come forward, creating a complex web of concealment that hampers the eradication of this pervasive issue.

As we navigate the complex landscape of workplace dynamics, it is crucial to unveil the veil of silence surrounding harassment. By fostering a culture that encourages open communication, supports victims, and holds perpetrators accountable, we can dismantle the structures that perpetuate harassment and create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe, respected, and empowered. Organisations are encouraged to put policies in place to address any issue of workplace harassment that covers from sexual harassment to verbal abuse and bullying. Creating a culture of non-retaliation, whistleblowing and support community will help to unveil and strengthen the fight against any form of workplace harassment. These policies should be enforced with commitment from leadership on its stand to foster a safe work environment that enables its employees to thrive.

Read also: London art exhibition exposes human trafficking from Africa to UAE for sexual exploitation

When we jointly fight this nightmare, the veil would remain unveiled with nowhere to hide its ugly face in the spirit and soul of its victims in the workplace and society at large.

 

Coach Lara Yeku (CLY) is the Head of HR, Food Commercial Division; Certified Business Analysis Professional; the author of “My HR Story Book.”