Sexual Harassment is nothing new. It’s been around pretty much forever…probably as long as mankind itself.
However, that doesn’t make it right.
Just last month, the Straits Times published an article that says that 2 out of 5 Singaporeans have been the victims of sexual harassment at work. That’s an incredibly worrying number!
There’s a fine line to draw between flirting and outright intimidation and it’s here where a ton of people (some innocent) stumble. I’m not advocating for sexual harrassers, but I do think that some cases of sexual harrasment could simply be due to misunderstandings.
This is not one of those cases.
This time around, the incident happened between two parties; Sharul Channa and Viswa Sadasivan. Channa’s a comedienne and Viswa’s a big shot at a company and ex-NMP.
It’s pretty clear cut what took place after reading that, right?
Hell, I prefer to think of myself as being outspoken and even I don’t talk like that to people I’m dealing with professionally. The keyword here being ‘professional’.
You might be thinking that this whole thing’s been blown out of proportion. Viswa might be that unaware that his advances are unwanted. He could really be that dense.
I personally know people like this so I was leaning that way too.
That is until I read Kiran Kandade‘s messages.
Even women rights group AWARE Singapore’s waded in at this point.
AWARE Singapore’s not tiptoeing around the issue at all. In their statement, they’ve made it abundantly clear they’re completely behind the two women who’ve spoken up.
The organization also makes some very good points about sexual harassment in their release, including the misconception that the victim has to indicate their displeasure when it happened for it to count.
It’s incredibly surprising for me to find out that most victims don’t even acknowledge the issue, preferring to gloss it over because of a perceived of lack of evidence.
Another interesting thing to note from their statement is how sexual harassment’s viewed. You’d think that it’s judged by how obvious the intent is right? Nope, it’s a bit more subtle than that as sexual harassment’s judged by the impact it has on the victim.
It’s also interesting that AWARE Singapore says that being a supporter of women’s rights does not make one immune being a sexual harasser. One can apparently be a staunch supporter but still engage in sexual harassment.
After reading through AWARE Singapore’s post, I’m pretty much sure that all my doubts are gone now.
Viswa’s guilty as sin for the charge of sexual harassment.
I’m cringing just reading the first few texts. Making it to the end was nearly unbearable. The part where he ‘joked’ that he was owed three big kisses? Dude, that was incredibly gross and inappropriate.
Now, to his credit, Viswa’s stepped up and apologized to Sharul, though I’m unsure if he’s done the same for Kiran.
He’s even popped in the same AWARE post mentioned earlier to denounce the people hounding the two ladies.
I don’t know though…perhaps this really has been a turning point for him and he’s finally aware that some of his conduct with these ladies weren’t exemplary.
All too often though, apologies like these only come after the offender’s been caught with their hands in the cookie jar and have no other recourse but to say sorry. They don’t mean it but to save face publicly and be PC (politically correct), they admit to what they did and try to move on.
I guess time will tell if Viswa’s telling the truth but even if he is, that just takes out one of millions (or more) of sexual harassers.
As a society, we all should be acutely aware of our actions at all times. On the flip side, we should also be brave enough to speak out if we think we’ve been wronged.
While sexual harassment’s mainly an issue for females, males also can be faced with the same problems. It’s to everybody’s benefit that we have a culture that doesn’t stigmatize victims based on their sex or cultivate a sense of victim blaming.
The ladies mentioned earlier? They’ve been the bombarded by idiots blaming them for speaking out. Have we stooped so low as a people that we’re now blaming victims for what’s not their fault? How blind do you have to be to side with somebody without even making sure all the facts are straight first?
How can we weed out sexual harassment in our society if every time somebody deigns to speak up about their experience people jump down their throat and blame them for instigating it instead?
Things need to change and soon.