University Of Ghana
Faculty of Social Studies
Department Of Social Work
Sowk 605: Social Issues in Contemporary Ghana
Topic: Sexual Harassment a Blessing or a Curse to society?
Presented By: Amy Asiedu
Lecturer: Dr Dan-Bright Dzorbo
There have been many ambiguities surrounding what actually constitutes sexual harassment and how it differs from other sexual advances. If one simply looks at a dictionary’s definition of harassment it means “annoying or unpleasant behaviour towards someone that takes place regularly"(Macmillan English Dictinary, 2002), it is clear that such behaviour towards a colleague is undesirable and could undermine morale and ...view middle of the document...
In 1984 however, it was expanded to include educational institutions.
The EEOC defines sexual harassment as:
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
1. Submission to such conduct was made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment,
2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual was used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or
3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. (EEOC, 1980).
In defining behaviour as sexually harassing, three issues come up
• The perception of the person at the receiving end, thus the interpretation of the behaviour as unwanted or sexual in nature.
• The intention of the harasser, thus a condition for receiving benefits.
• The impact that a sexually harassing behaviour creates, thus a hostile environment or physical injury.
Victims and Perpetrators
The harasser can be anyone, such as a supervisor, a client, a co-worker, a teacher or professor, a student, a friend, or a stranger. The victim does not have to be the person directly harassed but can be anyone who finds the behaviour offensive and is affected by it. The victim can be male or female. The harasser can be male or female. The harasser does not have to be of the opposite sex. The harasser may be completely unaware that his or her behaviour is offensive or constitutes sexual harassment or may be completely unaware that his or her actions could be unlawful. According to Kodalie and Flood as cited by Britwum and Anokye (2006), anyone can be verbally or physically assaulted on the basis of his or her sex or sexual identity. However, despite the fact that the experience of sexual harassment is not limited to one category of persons, women on the whole tend to suffer more the incidence of sexual harassment than men and the perpetrators are overwhelmingly male. Based on this issue, I will like to concentrate on females as victims and males as perpetrators.
Women of all ages are harassed, whether they are physically attractive or plain, sexily or soberly dressed. A woman's high rank or status in the organisation, her age or her race, is no insurance or shield.
Women who are particularly vulnerable include:
• Women heads-of-household, who need their jobs badly.
• Divorcées or widows are often psychologically vulnerable because of loneliness and personal loss.
• Women who are timid or insecure about their abilities, and lack self-confidence and career-related education; who have limited potential for advancement and are easy to replace.