4. Effects of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment at work
can have very serious consequences both for the harassed individual
as well as for other working women who experience it secondhand.
The consequences to the
individual employee can be many and serious. In some situations, a
harassed woman risks losing her job or the chance for a promotion if
she refuses to give in to the sexual demands of someone in authority.
In other situations, the unwelcome sexual conduct of co-workers makes
the working conditions hostile and unpleasant- putting indirect pressure
on her to leave the job. Sometimes, the employee is so traumatized
by the harassment that she suffers serious emotional and physical consequences—and
very often, becomes unable to perform her job properly.
According to data complied by Equal
Rights Advocates, a women’s law center in the U.S., 90 to 95% of
sexually harassed women suffer from some debilitating stress reaction,
including anxiety, depression, headaches, sleep disorders, weight loss
or gain, nausea, lowered self-esteem and sexual dysfunction. In addition,
victims of sexual harassment lose $4.4 million dollars in wages and
973,000 hours in unpaid leave each year in the United States.
The consequences to working
women as a group are no less serious. Sexual harassment has a cumulative,
demoralizing effect that discourages women from asserting themselves
within the workplace, while among men it reinforces stereotypes of women
employees as sex objects. Severe or pervasive sexual harassment in
certain types of businesses creates a hostile or intimidating environment
that causes women to leave their jobs and look elsewhere for work or
discourages them from seeking those jobs in the first place.
The effect on the morale
of all employees can also be serious. Both men and women in a workplace
can find their work disrupted by sexual harassment even if they are
not directly involved. Sexual harassment can have a demoralizing effect
on everyone within range of it, and it often negatively impacts company
productivity on the whole.