April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The theme for 2009 is Sexual Violence in the Workplace. From 1993 - 1999, 36,500 rapes and sexual assaults occurred while employees were working or on duty in the US. This number excludes $12,000+ annual reported acts of sexual harassment at work.
How is Workplace Sexual Violence defined?
- Jokes about rape or about women as sex objects
- Language, such as name-calling, using sexual slurs, and comments about someone's body
- Images that are pornographic or offensive images in the workplace
- Verbal abuse: yelling at someone or making derogatory comments to someone
- Physical abuse of any kind: hitting, touching someone in a sexual manner, and manipulating or forcing someone to have sex
Consequences for Victims:
- Victims sometimes have decreased work functioning for up to 8 months after the attack.
- 50% quit or lose their job in the aftermath of sexual violence at work.
How can YOU make changes in your workplace? Prevention means stopping sexual violence before it happens. This requires coworkers to change how they treat each other and how they look at sexual violence in society.
Here are some examples of how employees and employers have a role in preventing violence:
- Employees treat one another with respect and dignity regardless of gender race or religion.
- Have a well-publicized policy for reporting and responding to acts of sexual harassment and violence.
- Businesses should support their local rape crisis center through donation of time or money.
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