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Unwanted advances - Legacy

03 May 2021
As Petra battles with sexual harassment in the office we take a closer look at the problem.
Screenshot 2021 05 03 at 13

If you've been cringing whenever Mike appears on the screen over the last few weeks, you are not alone. Petra has had to endure some unwanted advances and more recently some very cruel words from her supposed mentor. 

Sexual harassment is a very real threat that women struggle with on a daily basis and this occurs even in the workplace. It has become such a problem over the years that millions of women across the globe are taking a stand together to shed light on the issue. The Me Too (or #MeToo) movement is one example of women taking a stand and outing perpetrators and predators. 

The movement was initially started in 2006 by sexual harassment survivor and activist Tarana Burke from New York City. Almost 10 years after in 2015 the phrase started trending again when Italian model Ambra Gutierrez accused Harvey Weinstein of touching her inappropriately. Unfortunately, as the investigation progressed the media started publishing negative stories about Gutierrez and she decided to not file charges against Weinstein. 

This however inspired another famous face to come forward and in 2016 Alyssa Milano also accused Weinstein of predatory behavior. In a blog post on the subject the actress wrote: "If you've been sexually harassed or assaulted write ' me too' as a reply to this tweet.", and reposted the following phrase: "If all women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote 'Me Too' as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem." This sparked a worldwide outcry with thousands of women including other celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence Uma Thurman and Gwyneth Paltrow also coming forward and admitting that they were harassed or assaulted. Because of this hundreds of predators were identified and more than 200 powerful men were implicated. 

So what does sexual harassment look like:

Sexual harassment can present itself in a magnitude of scenarios and circumstances. Here are a few forms of sexual harassment:

  • Making conditions of employment or advancement dependent on sexual favors, either explicitly or implicitly. 
  • Physical acts of sexual assault. 
  • Requests for sexual favors. 
  • Verbal harassment of sexual nature, including jokes referring to sexual acts or sexual orientation. 
  • Unwanted touching or physical contact.
  • Unwelcome sexual advances. 
  • Discussing sexual relations/stories/fantasies at work, school, or in other inappropriate places. 
  •  Feeling pressured to engage with someone sexually. 
  • Exposing oneself. 
  • Unwanted sexually explicit photos, emails, or text messages. 

In terms of the Employment Equity Act, No 55 of 1998 (Act), harassment of an employee is a form of unfair discrimination and it is prohibited and is characterised by the Labour Appeal Court as 'the most heinous misconduct that plagues a workplace".

Even though Petra confided in Sims and Sanele, you might not always have a support structure to help you through this. Here are a few things you can do when you feel like you are being sexually harassed:

  • Document it. 
    • Keep a detailed record of incidents. 
    • This way, when you report the harassment to your employer or the police you'll be able to present detailed examples and build a timeline if this continues. 
  • Make it clear that it's unwelcome.
    • The key element of harassment is the fact that it is not welcome behavior so this needs to be made very clear to the perpetrator. 
    • Make it clear that you are uncomfortable with their actions or words and that it needs to stop. 
  • Consult with management. 
    • Bring it up when it starts happening so that you have the support of your superiors.

For more information on what to do when you are the victim of sexual harassment, you can reach out to any of the entities listed in this article from Legal Wise.

For now our Petra is standing strong and finding ways to work with Mike while the problem persists, we just hope that it does not escalate before something is done about his dodgy ways. 

Join us every Monday to Thursday at 19:00 as we see how this unfolds and remember to join the conversation using #LegacySA.  Find us on Twitter (@MNet),  Instagram (@mnettv), and Facebook (@MNet). You can also binge-watch Legacy on Showmax or catch up on DStv.




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