Examples of what may be Sexual Harassment

Below are some examples of different kinds of sexual harassment at workplace:

[Disclaimer: Please note that these examples have been put together based on real life cases handled by us, incidents reported in media and judgments from courts. They do not reflect or denote incidents at any particular organization. Given the nature of the subject, some examples may appear to be high on sexual content and may be disturbing for some readers, however, please note that these have been assorted only for the purpose of learning and better understanding of concepts. Kindly do not read further in case you do not wish to.]

Here are some examples of unwelcome physical contact / advances:

  • Kissing the person forcefully, or as a greeting technique, when the person does not wish to
  • Repeatedly and persistently touching while giving a glass of water, notes, papers etc.
  • Stroking or poking or pinching the person intentionally, at a narrow cubicle or passage way
  • Patting the back in order to show appreciation
  • Breathing very close to the person on the pretext of telling some instruction

Here are some examples of unwelcome demand / request for sexual favours:

  • Persistently asking someone out, writing repeated love letters or flirting despite being turned down (example: why do you keep saying no for coffee with me? You like acting hard to get?)
  • Unwelcome social invitations with sexual overtones (example: you are a single mother/father, don’t you have needs?)
  • Pressurizing for engaging in any sexual activity (example: you’re 25. Don’t hormones affect you?)

The above statements may be interpreted or construed to be sexual harassment by some persons on the receiving end if such statements are unwelcome / unreciprocated.

Here are some examples of unwelcome sexually coloured remarks:

  • Offensive comments or jokes (example: this place is full of wolves you know. I like hunting too but I am the best you will get in this lot…let me know if you want to try).
  • Inappropriate questions, suggestions or remarks about a person’s sex life or graphic commentaries about an individual’s body (example: oh so you are the hippy kinds, how many times have you got pregnant?)
  • Sexually degrading words used to describe an individual (example: you seem to have a big pack down there! Intriguing!!)

What may be funny for you may not necessarily be funny to the person at the receiving end. It is the perception of the recipient that matters and not that of the person making such comments.

Here are some examples of other physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct which may be unwelcome:

  • Solicitation of sexual activity or other sex-linked behavior by promise of reward
  • I will keep transferring you to a branch in another city until you say yes!
  • Have you forgotten that your contract is up for renewal?
  • Sitting in the canteen and cracking sexual jokes about other colleagues
  • Pasting nude posters in cafeterias or in bathrooms, common rooms, etc.
  • Constantly playing item numbers while sitting in groups

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