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SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN FAMILY

Priyanshi Srivastava, Babu Banarasi Das University, Lucknow

Sexual harassment is a type of discrimination based on sex. When someone is sexually harassed where they live, it can make them feel very vulnerable. They may fear for their own safety and that of their families.

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, sexual harassment is “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought to be known to be unwelcome.” In some cases, one incident can be serious enough to be sexual harassment. Some examples of sexual harassment are:

  • asking for sex in exchange for a benefit or a favour
  • repeatedly asking for dates, and not taking “no” for an answer
  • demanding hugs
  • making unnecessary physical contact, including unwanted touching
  • using rude or insulting language or making comments toward women (or men, depending on the circumstances)
  • calling people sex-specific derogatory names
  • making sex-related comments about a person’s physical characteristics or actions
  • saying or doing something because you think a person does not conform to sex-role stereotypes
  • posting or sharing pornography, sexual pictures or cartoons, sexually explicit graffiti, or other sexual images (including online)
  • making sexual jokes
  • Bragging about sexual prowess.

In the case of housing, sexual harassment may also include:

  • making uninvited visits to a person’s residence (either when they are home or not home)
  • refusing to make needed repairs and/or do maintenance
  • threatening to cut services
  • Threatening to evict someone if they do not go along with sexual advances.

The Ontario Human Rights Code says everyone has the right to be free from sexual harassment by their husband/wife.

Everyone should know about the anti-sexual harassment policy and the steps in place for resolving complaints. This can be done by:

  • giving policies to everyone as soon as they are introduced
  • making all employees, tenants, aware of them by including the policies in orientation material
  • Training people, including people in positions of responsibility, about the policies, and educating them on human rights issues.

Now, the reality is, sexual harassment of children i.e. sexual abuse of children are done at home by their own relatives and family members too, when it comes to sexual abuse, our children are not automatically as safe as we’d like them to be. We may build around them a fortress of protection, but I want to argue that we have to build within them a defense every bit as strong as the defense without. I also want to emphasize that danger lies not at the hands of strangers, but in the hands of those we are oft too quick to trust. Sexual abuse is “any contact or interaction (visual, verbal, or psychological) between a child/adolescent and an adult (or older teen) when the child/adolescent is used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or another person). The statistics says, 1 in 3 girls (statistics vary, but they always fall between 1 in 4 to 1 in 3) and 1 in 7 boys (often the statistics show 1 in 6) will be sexually abused by the time they reach adulthood. As many as 47% of perpetrators are related to the victim. As many as 93% of perpetrators are known (family/friends/church members/acquaintances) to the victim beforehand. 82% of child and youth victims are female. 9% of youth ages 14 to 21 commit some form of sexual abuse toward another person (which reminds us that it’s not just our task to protect our children from abuse, but also our task to raise our children to never harm another in this way).

So this is a conversation we all need to be having. In our homes, in our churches, in our communities, we need to be talking about this. And not just amongst adults does this conversation need to be had; this is a day in which frank, blunt, honest conversations need to be held with our children. No national statistics are kept for what lawyers call “sexual harassment in housing.

It is difficult to definitively know how many women are being harassed at home because it often goes unreported. Figures of reported incidents are also difficult to come by because women have a variety of private, state and federal agencies to tell. Of the 10,000 discrimination in housing complaints the Department of Housing and Urban Development received last year, about 10 percent, or 996 cases, pertained to sex discrimination, said Kim Kendrick, a fair housing and equal opportunity official however, distinguish between traditional forms of discrimination and harassment.

The children are being harassed in family by their own family members and the women being sexually harassed by their own husband sometimes. Sexually harassing a child is known as child sexual abuse, which is punishable by law. Law itself provides special provision for the women who are being sexually harassed by their husband in one or the other way discussed above. The victim should understand its right and must raise his/her voice against the wrongdoer and should not tolerate such kind of violence. Not only the government is responsible for above discussed statistics of harassment in the family but the women who are continuously facing it must complaint and should take immediate action and too it is the mistake of the family members who when came to know about such things being happened to their children sits silently because of their relations in family and reputation in society. It is the duty of the court to punish the wrongdoer strictly.

About Amar Bharat

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