Find out what sexual harassment is and how to fight it

There is no safe place for women in Brazil. Between the months of January 2018 and January 2019, 22 million (37.1%) of Brazilians experienced some form of harassment. That’s because we don’t count the cases of aggression – 1.6 million in the same period. And do you know why these statistics are not higher? Because most women do not report (52%) or, worse, do not know what sexual harassment is.

Undeniably, harassment is already something intrinsic to our culture. After all, how many times have they not said that it was just a “compliment” for “admiration for the beauty of women”? In fact, another problem that makes it difficult to recognize sexual harassment is that it can happen at home, done by a relative or family friend, for example. Therefore, the victim has more difficulty understanding and admitting what is happening.

o in this post we will find out:

  • What is sexual harassment;
  • What are its main characteristics;
  • How the harasser usually acts;
  • How to combat sexual harassment;
  • Conclusion.

Come on!

What is sexual harassment?

According to article 216 of the Penal Code, sexual harassment means “to embarrass someone in order to obtain a sexual advantage or favor, with the agent prevailing in his / her condition of superior hierarchy or ancestry inherent in the exercise of a job, position or function” . He also recognizes the harasser as a direct or indirect superior to the victim.

It may seem a little strange to put an unknown man, for example, in a position of superiority, isn’t it? The problem is that we live in a sexist and patriarchal society, which places the will of man above woman.

The Code also details that the invasive acts done in the public space (usually by strangers) are, in fact, the crime of sexual harassment – which according to Law 13.718 means: ” to practice against someone, and without their consent, libidinous act with the aim of satisfying one’s own lust or that of others ”.

However, other crimes can also be configured and generate compensation from the aggressor. Verbal offenses, for example, are crimes of injury.

Sexual harassment is considered:

  • Invasive calls, offenses or gestures in the middle of the street, with the aim of embarrassing;
  • “Encoxar” in public environments or in transport;
  • Kisses by force;
  • Pass the hand.

o in this post we will find out:

  • What is sexual harassment;
  • What are its main characteristics;
  • How the harasser usually acts;
  • How to combat sexual harassment;
  • Conclusion.

Come on!

Sexual harassment in public settings

Ejaculation without the woman’s permission in transport or in public environments can be considered harassment or rape, depending on the situation (use of force, for example). According to article 213 of the Penal Code , it is configured as rape: “to embarrass someone, through violence or serious threat, to have carnal conjunction or to practice or allow another libidinous act to be practiced with them”.

Finally, the obscene act, specified by  article 233 of the Penal Code, is: “to practice an obscene act in a public place, either open or exposed to the public”. For example, showing the penis.

Above all, sexual harassment disrespects women’s freedom, physical, moral or psychological integrity. For this reason, it is common for her to feel “dirty” and afraid. After all, your space was “violated” by someone without your consent. And where there is no consent, there is harassment.

In addition, many women are afraid to react because they may suffer violence – just look up there at the number of women who have suffered aggression in just one year.

What is the difference between sexual harassment and flirting?

Only one: consent. In flirting, you want the other person to give in to your conversation, to be reciprocal to your advances. While in sexual harassment, the individual has no intention of establishing a bond with the harassed woman. He just wants to show that he has a right to the woman’s body and mind, that he can use them whenever he wants.

Think: how many men who screamed at you in the street were trying to start a conversation? In flirting, no matter how shy or nervous you are, there is no fear or anguish – even if the conversation doesn’t work.

Sexual harassment and illness

The stress caused by constant harassment can cause physical and psychological illnesses. Anxiety, Depression, Panic Syndrome, sudden changes in weight, excessive stress and insomnia are some of the problems.

Why don’t many women report the harasser?

Certainly many women don’t even know what sexual harassment is, and others don’t want to admit it. There are also those who review the situation, because they know the harasser. But the biggest factor, of course, is fear .

Noting this reason, the British BBC listed the reasons why women do not report a harasser or abuser. Look that:

  • Ignorance about what sexual harassment is: considering that it is just a whistle or praise makes the victim think he is wrong because he feels embarrassed. After all, the harasser is not committing a physical assault. However, this predatory behavior disguised as praise is a crime and is contained in the Penal Code;
  • The victim is afraid that no one will believe her: you must know cases where the victim makes a rape accusation, for example, and is discredited by society or the family. Depending on the aggressor’s fame, the woman’s version can be considered an exaggeration or a lie to tarnish her reputation;
  • Fear of the harasser: many women are afraid to report or even to retaliate for fear of what the harasser may do. If it is in the workplace, the fear is of losing your job; if it is in the family, of being persecuted or killed; if it is on the street, to be beaten and not have protection. This constant fear undermines self-confidence and destroys the psychological;

Shame and blame

It was also observed that the woman’s behavior, in the face of cases of sexual harassment, develops a feeling of shame and guilt:

  • Ashamed of having suffered harassment: women have heard all sorts of atrocities on their bodies. She begins to feel “dirty” and violated because of male behavior that, for many, was encouraged;
  • Blaming the victim for society: “She was provoking”, “look at the size of her skirt”, “she wore short clothes to get attention and now complains” – who has never heard these phrases?
  • Guilt: guilt is intrinsically linked to shame. The victim begins to believe what society says. There is also the feeling that you are destroying someone’s career or reputation for purported praise;
  • Fear of reliving the experience: the victim feels that telling the story is reliving and feeling everything that happened again;
  • Fear of losing your job: when the harasser is someone in high office;
  • Fear that the complaint will be in vain;
  • Difficulties in denouncing and institutional violence: unfortunately, if ordinary people do not know how to deal with harassment, neither the police nor the security guards in the establishments will also. There are cases of whistleblowers who have been discouraged or disrespected in police stations, for example.

In short, harassment is often not treated as a problem. You may have seen that case in which a woman retaliated against the harassment and people around her said it was not for that. There are also cases of successful men who, even if they have committed harassment, are not compelled to serve time in order not to damage the image – that is, the case is stifled.

How to combat sexual harassment?

Now that you know what sexual harassment is, you need to know how to defend yourself from it, don’t you? If you know someone or are going through this situation, follow the tips:

Ask for help

Speak up and say the guy is harassing you. He will probably feel embarrassed and deny it, but don’t give up. If you try to escape, you can count on the help of others to hold you back. They can also serve as witnesses for the complaint at the police station.  

If they do not want to accompany you, ask if they can provide a document number, full name and some form of contact (phone or cell phone) for the police to contact.

Gather information

First, write down the date of the harassment, the location, time, contact information of the witnesses and characteristics of the aggressor. If you can take pictures or film, even better! Also check for cameras at the crime scene, as they will make it easier for the police.

If the harassment happened over the internet, you can take the conversations from social networks.

Make a report

Have a family member or trusted friend accompany you to the police station. It’s time to make a police report!

Did the police authority refuse to register the incident? Remember that this attitude is illegal, although many police officers try to discourage the victim from reporting. 

If this happens, file a complaint with the ombudsman of the agency where this problem occurred. If nothing goes, look for the local prosecutor to denounce the refusal and the crime.

Important institutions

See numbers or websites of institutions that can help you identify harassment and report it:

  • Women’s Police Station
  • Call Center for Women in Situations of Violence: Call 180
  • Military Police: 190

What about rape?

First, if you or someone you know has suffered a rape, seek medical help. The danger of becoming infected with a disease is great, and the victim urgently needs professional support. If possible, look for a center specializing in violence against women, which is usually better prepared to deal with cases of violence.

Medical care is guaranteed by law. Therefore, it must be immediate and mandatory in any public hospital within the SUS network, in addition to health posts and emergency care units. If you have no proof of rape, don’t worry: your word is sovereign . In no case is it mandatory to present a police report – that is why you should seek help before going to the police station.

Conclusion

Did you understand what sexual harassment is? If you go through one of the situations mentioned, do not hesitate to report it. If the harasser is unarmed and in a public place, make a fuss right now and ask for help from those around you.

If it is in the workplace, gather as much evidence as possible, including recordings (audio and video) of the times when harassment occurs. But don’t shut up! Harassment cannot continue!

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