Gender violence in the Spotlight

[LISTEN] Clearing the blurred lines of sexual harassment

Rebecca Davis, author and journalist and human rights lawyer Sanja Bornman, joined host, Eusebius McKasier for a critical discussion on sexual harassment, sexual harassment in the workplace as well as the consequences of speaking up against sexual harassment.

Davis begins by saying there is often a genuine uncertainty where sexual harassment is concerned from both victims and perpetrators.

When is somebody stepping over a line and who is drawing the line and what is the line?

Rebecca Davis, author and journalist

Davis adds that context needs to be explicitly conveyed in every scenario or sexual harassment incident.

Bornman chimes in to further explain that a lot of people do not pay enough attention to what the law says about sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is very simply, unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature and that violates the rights of an employee and constitutes a barrier to equity in the workplace, says Bornman.

When she hosts workshops on sexual harassment, she likes starting the conversation by roping in biological sex, gender expression, and sexual orientation to distinguish the differences and how privilege attaches to those concepts.

Consent and power dynamics influences a persons ability to be able to consent. It also influences they way in which they will say no.

Sanja Bornman, Attorney, Lawyers for Human Rights Gender Equality Programme & Chair of the Hate Crimes Working Group

Media campaigns urge women to speak out and report sexual harassment and rape. But it is not that easy.

Davis says she has found herself in positions where she allowed comments that fell in the sexual harassment category but chose not to speak up to avoid 'causing trouble' in the workplace.

You always have to temper with the realism of the situation, if you take this further, is it going to make your working life substantially more miserable? For me, that is the reality women have to deal with.

Rebecca Davis, author and journalist

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