Preventing and Dealing with Sexual Harassment
Legal Definition of Sexual Harassment
According to Section 2 of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance*, sexual harassment covers the sexual harassment of both men and women as well as persons of the same sex.
Sexual harassment may involve uninvited and unwelcome physical, visual, verbal, or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature that makes the person being sexually harassed feel offended, humiliated, or intimidated, or which creates a hostile or intimidating environment.
One single incident can constitute sexual harassment. It is not necessary for there to be a series of incidents.
*Section 2(5) of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance defines sexual harassment while sections 2(7), 2(8), 9, 23, and 39 are all relevant.
Examples of Sexual Harassment Acts*
- Repeated attempts to make a date, despite being told “NO” each time.
- Comments with sexual innuendoes and suggestive or insulting sounds.
- Relentless humor and jokes about sex or gender in general.
- Sexual propositions or other pressure for sex.
- Implied or overt threats for sex.
- Obscene gestures or inappropriate touching (e.g. patting, touching, kissing, or pinching)
- Persistent phone calls or letters asking for a personal sexual relationship.
- Displaying sexually obscene or suggestive photographs or literature
- Sexual assault or forced sexual intercourse (rape).
*Examples are taken from the Equal Opportunities Common Website.
The following cases are based on local court cases or Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) conciliation cases.
- Case No. DCE07/2009
- Case No. DCE015/2009
- Case No. DCE01/1998
- EOC conciliation case in 2008
- EOC register reference SDO/1/February/2003
- EOC register reference SDO/2/December/2002
What to do if it happens to you?
If you are being sexually harassed, or if someone is doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable, you must:
Say “NO” to the harasser! State, in certain terms, that his/her behavior or comment is unwanted and has to stop.
Indicate that you are offended even if the harasser states that he/she intended no harm.
Keep a written record of the incidents including the where, when, who (witnesses), what (nature), and how (your response) of the harassment.
Tell someone you trust; complain to the Equal Opportunities Commission; or contact the police.