Demystifying sexual harassment

Women being harassed in work places and public spaces is becoming a regular Bhutanese toll now. 

This had been endured and fought against by women and supporters on many occasions that they faced. However, the alarm bells have been chiming all the while. 

In the few weeks, there were reports of rape and sexual harassment from Thimphu and Tsirang. The menace of sexual harassment has to be deplored and exhorted. 

By definition, sexual harassment is a “behavior characterized by the making of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in a workplace or other professional or social situation.” 

It is unfortunate that sexual harassment happening instantly amid discussion and public awareness.  

To be clear, sexual harassment by men to their subordinates, their students, their proteges and others is an abhorrent and inexcusable act. Though some may acknowledge that the shrugs are harmless hijinks but it can be no more accepted unless welcomed. 

There are good initiatives by the relevant agencies that seek to provide safe spaces for women. This will not have an overnight effect and will still be a long process before the changes will really be significantly felt. It is also important to note that a law is a good cushion to fall back on for now and a powerful weapon against these sexual predators. 

It is the dream that with the strict implementation of law, more women will be aware of their rights and will be protected. More than that, it is important to educate men to respect women and other people and that women are not props to their libido and sexual jokes. Even women should not welcome such practices to promote the sexual harassment, rape or molestation. Women ought themselves to conserve their space. Law should be implemented strictly, justice should be passed to the victims. 

Social media can be used as a place for victims to speak out, and people in power have greater difficulty in hiding experiences of sexual harassment, and the mainstream media should be ready to pounce the stories. All should act to stop making our land of happiness being a home for rapists, sexual harassers, or those implicit in the process. 

The language surrounding gender inequality ceases to be on how as a humanity can do more, how men can do more, how we can all do more. It remains a list of checkboxes women must perform to stay alive.