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Background

Human beings are social beings and their interactions are supposed to increase their social bonds at all means. However, there are instances that a male or a female whether student or an adult employee feel offended by the course that interactions are taking. Sexual harassment is a major example of this. This is an unwelcome behavior, which is sexual in nature and results to a feeling of powerless, uncomfortable, fear or interference with one’s job in the working place. The victim and the harasser may be a woman or a man but in some cases it may be between people of the same sex. Harassers, in most cases, have undue influence over their victims in such relationship as an employee and employer but may also arise in relationships among the employees themselves.

There are many behaviors that may amount to sexual harassment. These include pressure for sexual favors, inappropriate sexual gestures, sexual assaults or attempted rape, inappropriate date pressures, sexual remarks, sexual innuendos, enquiries about sexual fantasies, touching the other person’s hair or body and sexual evocative signals among others. Dzeich et al. divided harassers into private and public harassers.  Public harassers are those ones that are barefaced in their seduction attitude or intentions to their victims. Private harassers conduct themselves in a respectable and restrained way in public but their character changes, when in private with their targets.  According to Gelfand (1993), sexual harassment can be of three types. These consist of sexual coercion, unnecessary sexual attentions and gender harassment. Gender harassment relates to conveyance of degrading and hostile attitudes to the victims. Unnecessary attentions arise from conducts that are generally perceived as harassing such as repeated attempts to develop a romantic relationship.  When implicit or explicit threats are used to receive sexual cooperation, it becomes sexual coercion.

Statement of the Problem

Ideally, women fall victims of sexual violence in many place. This, in most cases, is a reflection of the power, shared between men and women. Women are likely to lack enough powers, lack self-confidence or be insecure and vulnerable. For every ten women in U.S., at least one suffers from sexual assault or rape in their life time.

Though there have been a series of impediments that women face, while seeking employment, there has been an upward rise in the women participation in the global labor market. Women are getting employed and securing leadership positions that were dominated by men. In such cases, women receive low pay, lack promotion and experience other forms of discriminations. To sum it all, sexual harassment becomes a nightmare that women have to subdue to or address and bear the consequences.  A complainant is subjected to even more humiliations, which may include: denial of promotion opportunities and see to it that a person who resigns is not accepted in a different company. In an environment, where sexual harassment is tolerated, there is decreased performance, weakened support networks, increased absenteeism, character defamation and lack of trust among colleagues and others.

With the realization of the impact of sexual harassment, government, individuals and organization have to take front leads to ensure that the menace is addressed. Policies have been made, trying to define what acts may amount to sexual harassment, requirement of sexual harassment statements positions of organizations and the steps that should be taken by the victim or witness in case of sexual harassment. However, there is nothing much to celebrate given that, the sexual harassment cases have further increased in the recent past. Additionally, majority of these cases are not reported for reasons that are not yet very clear. Despite the scholarly work that has been done on sexual harassment, there is a knowledge gap, relating to the effects of sexual harassment of women in the working places. This study seeks to fill this gap.

Objective of the Study

The major objective of this study is to establish the effect of sexual harassment on women in the working places. The specific objectives are:

  1. To establish the root cause of sexual harassment in working places.
  2. To find out the level of awareness about the sexual harassment policies among the employees in different companies.
  3. To investigate the number of sexual harassment cases that goes unreported.
  4. To establish the effect of sexual harassment on employed women performance.

Research questions

  1. What are the root causes of sexual harassment in working places?
  2. What is the awareness level about sexual harassment policies among the employees?
  3. How many cases of sexual harassment go unreported?
  4. What is the effect of sexual harassment on employed women performance?

Significance of the Study

This study will form a pool of information about the situation of sexual harassment of women in working places. The policy makers need information to understand any loophole of the existing policies and also how to structure new policies to fit their purpose. Every company has its bill bond and other displays to show their commitments to ensuring that there is no sexual harassment taking place. This may be supported by a study that provides information about what kind of sexual harassments still exist and their impact on the employee’s performance and interactions. On the part of employee, this study will provide knowledge on the most vulnerable group and how to prevent and respond to sexual harassment attempts. Knowledge of the impacts of the sexual harassments will provoke alertness among women and will also show how to be in charge of what transpires around them.

Literature Review

Originally, sexual harassment developed as a legal concept in U.S. but later, it became a behavioral and social concept, studied empirically by scientist all over the world. In the U.S. federal law, workplace sexual harassment is perceived to be gender-based discrimination. There are two types of sexual harassment outlined by these guidelines: quid pro quo and unwelcome sex. According to the study, conducted by Popovich et al. (1992) on the level of sexual harassment in the working place, the challenge in addressing sexual harassment in organizations arise from its perceptual nature. Women have broader definition of sexual harassment and many of the things that men may perceive as ‘normal’ may be considered as sexual harassment by women in working place (Mazer & Percival, 1989). Men tend to find sexual overtures from women to be flattering but for women such conducts are likely to be considered as insults (Kanrad & Gutek, 1986).

Sexual harassment is a phenomenon that has captured attention of human resource departments in different organizations. According to research, conducted by Kementerian Sumber Manusia (1999) in Malaysia, sexually harassed women in the working places demonstrated low performance due to intimidation, embarrassment and humiliation that they received. Research, conducted by Sabitha (1999), indicated that sexual harassment against women in the working place is still being conducted in large scale than acknowledged, and that the consequences have had dramatic results, including loss of job benefits and psychological trauma.

Rogers and Henson (1997) in their study on sexual harassment in working place focused on the factors, contributing to sexual harassment, the extent, responses and labeling sexual harassment. They indicated that women were more vulnerable to sexual harassment in the working places. According to Piskorski (1993), on his sexual harassment research of organization in U.S., there is always a striking disagreement between public policy in support of solution being provided at local and managerial levels and public policy in opposition to sexual harassment. Management still experiences dilemmas in addressing the issue in U.S. as outlined in the study, conducted by Dilorenzo and Pharshbarger (1999). They observed that as the management strived to comply with federal laws, it also had to understand the victim perception on sexual harassment first.

Research Design

This study will be conducted to establish the causes and effects of sexual harassment on women in working places. Quantitative and qualitative data will be obtained by use of questionnaire and data collection guide respectively.

Sample Design

Qualitative data will be aimed at establishing the interpretation of sexual harassment by different people in the working place and outside. In some cases, snowball sampling will be used. The target group will include women in working places, management, representative organization and policy makers.

Data Collection

Data will be collected in the first week of March 2012. Qualitative data will be collected using in-depth interviews and where consents are given, audio tapes will be used in recording. Field notes will also be taken. Given the sensitivity of the sexual harassment, confidentiality, privacy and safety of the subject will be observed. Secondary data will be obtained from journals and records from other published sources upon getting permission from authorities to do so.  

Data Analysis and Presentation

Ones the collection guides and questionnaires are filled, they will be coded, entered and analyzed quantitatively by use of regression technique. To illustrate the demographic features of the sample, descriptive statistic will be used. Quantitative information will be analyzed by use of content analysis. Presentation will be in form of graphs and pie charts.

Ethical Considerations

Ethics will be observed throughout the whole process. All respondents will have to express their consent in filling the questionnaires without any coercion. Privacy and confidentiality will also be observed due to sensitivity of the issue. 

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