Your workplace should be safe zone, covered with respect and dignity. It doesn’t matter are you cleaner, waiter, lawyer or manager, basic human values should be untouchable. In the case when your honor is damaged, and when your respect is under question mark, you are victim of mobbing. One of the worst form of mobbing is sexual harassment. When your boss or colleagues try to humiliate you as sexual object, your worth is in danger and it is time to press red alarm button.
In Croatia, 50% women are abused at work. Every fifth woman will report this , and 30% will be silent. Last year ombudsman had 420 accusations which content was sexual harassment at work.
What you can do in this case?
1. report sexual harassment in your firm, so you will be in procedure of intermediation
2. if it doesn’t work, you can go to court, with accusation, and if your abuser is your boss, you can go to court immediately
3. also, you can report abuse to some association, to protect your rights and get legal advice
In Croatian Labor law are rules about protection of worker’s dignity and honor. Also, Law on prevention of discrimination has rules how to protect gender rights, because abusing women at work is also attack on their basic human rights and humiliation of female gender.
At first sight, all is clear, but abusers at work are not stupid and they know to cover their intentions.
They will have next arguments:
I am just joking.
This woman tried to seduce me with her short skirt or decolletage, she has too strong makeup and looks like whore.
That woman is lazy, she doesn’t do nothing.
She understood me wrong, i am not such kind of man.
Why women are sustained to report abusers at work?
Financial reasons, they are afraid not to lose job.
They are afraid of revenge, if they lose job, they will get bad recommendations.
Fear, that abuser can hurt them physically, or that their husbands will not understand.
Slow procedures at court, and too soft punishments.
Accord Criminal law in Croatia, abuser at work will get money penalty or prison for a 2 years and this kind of accusation must be private. That is in theory, and in practice many violent employees will avoid punishment because their victims will give up or they will afraid to report them.
How does it look like, and what should be sexual harassment at work, we can see from this example.
Branka works in civil service as secretary. Her computer is very slow and she invited guy from IT service to fix it and upload some antivirus programs. Saša, official man from IT service, few times invited Branka to drink coffee with him, but she is married and she rejected him. Saša said to her that they should meet after work, and she said no again. Then Saša start to massage her shoulders, because she was tense, as he noticed, and she pushed him. Next days Branka had crumbles on her skirt, because she ate sandwich. Saša touched her between legs to clean crumbles from bread, and she slapped him. He slapped her and she reported him to Union. Also he used dirty words as whore, slut and bitch , to describe Branka. She had many troubles to prove his bad behavior, but woman at Union supported her and they are still in process. Meanwhile, Saša is not working there anymore, because he was reported by one more woman , as sexual abuser.
Everything has time and place.
We can flirt in cafe bar, pub or club, we can joke even at work, but when behavior cross limits of decency, this is step into dark zone. Women at work are not prostitutes and if they don’t accept that you touch them and talk dirty with them, you should respect this, no matter how they look, what they wear and if they excite you, as man.
Men has two choices: you will respect your pretty colleague or you will act as total moron and risk to be reported and even you can get kick out from your comfortable workplace. So next time you will not be confused is this office or striptease bar.