According to Margaret (2001), sexual harassment is an illegal act that entails using force, coercion or bullying an individual in order to obtain a sexual favor. Mary (2002) indicates that sexual harassment is experienced when someone is inappropriately promised to be given a reward if only she /he engage in a sexual act with the other person. This may include all ranges of conduct from using mild transgressions to having a real sexual abuse. Sexual assault is almost same as sexual harassment because in both instances one person influences the decision of the other person to do sexual act unwillingly.
On the legal side, the behavior is deemed to be disturbing to the victim because in most cases the victim is usually disadvantageous. Orit (2005), also noted that the victim suffers emotionally or even physically in the process of committing the act. Sexual harassment reports indicate that most women fall victims. It has also been noted that most of the sexual offences go undetected because most of the victims do not like to talk about their experiences with others. There has been underreporting of the sexual harassment and sexual assault which accounts to the low response rate among victims and those who are entitled to help the victims obtain justice. Mary (2002), indicates that sexual harassment does not only involve sexual act against one will, but it also refers to a situation where one touches another against their will or even saying offensive and diminishing things against the other for sexual reasons. This can happen at work, in a bar, at school, at a shopping center or even while on the street. The attacker could be someone you know or a friend, relative or someone senior to you that have influence over you.
In the United States, the congress passed title VII of the Civil Rights Act which protected the rights of individuals while they were n the work place. The act was against any form of discrimination in the work place based on the sex, race, national origin, color or religion of individuals. Basing on this act, the sexual harassment law was later developed. The U.S Department of defense developed a human goals a charter which insisted fair treatment to all sexes at work place. In the year 2006, U.S.A President signed a law which protected individuals against receiving annoying messages without true identity of the sender, over the internet. According to Mary (2005), sexual harassment is usually limited however, the research conducted revealed that over 65% of working women have been sexually harassed but the percentage of those who have reported the matter accounts to only 15% of the women.
Police department involvement
Police departments across most nations in the United States have been accused of discriminating or conducting a sexual harassment behavior upon members they work with or members of the public. An example of such an act is when a federal jury in St. Louis awarded $10000 to a former police dispatcher together with $150,000 as a compensatory damage. The lady had filed charges against members of the St. Louis police department who were found liable for sexual harassment. Surprisingly, those involved in the case were senior members of the police department and they were found guilty in violation of title VII Civil Rights Act and also going against the human rights act.
According to Margaret (2001), an effective employee's sexual harassment policy can help them prevent a law suit that has been filed against them. He also noted that an effective sexual harassment policy act should be wisely planned for and acted upon. A workable policy once instituted should be enforced on a continuous basis. Paul (2002), indicates that the court has identified unlawful sexual harassment types which are effective. The first type of the unlawful sexual harassment is the quid pro quo harassment. This type of harassment relate to a tangible benefit that arises in the places of work. It relates to raises or promotions an individual gets but conditioned on unwilling sexual advances, requests or conduct. The second type of harassment is the hostile environment harassment. This type of harassment is when the working environment becomes disturbing, not conducive and oppressive to an employee because of sexual advances and requests he/she obtains from the surrounding working environment. The working environment includes the sex of supervisors, co-workers or even the clients/ customer he/she is dealing with. Orit (2005) indicates that an effective sexual harassment policy will cater for the needs of these two types of harassments.
According to Paul (2002), a well planned defense should be in a position to write and implement well written sexual harassment policy that caters for the needs of those working in the police departments and the members of the public. The police departments are advised to adopt the use of programs that prohibit sexual harassments in the work place. A well documented program should include;
Paul (2002) indicates that a successful litigation defense should be in a position to conduct training and education programs for its members. All the supervisory police officers should be trained on what makes up a sexual harassment and the police department members should be educated on what they are supposed to do in case of such illegal behaviors. The main aim of conducting such trainings to the police officers is to sensitize them on what they should perceive as being sexual harassing. The police officers are also entitled to know how to handle complaints made to them.
Margaret (2001) noted that in most cases, the procedures followed by police departments differ from one department to another. He insisted that each police department should invest enough careful thought in the planning of the sexual harassment policy. It should also ensure that its police officers are entitled to different behaviors that are deemed to be sexually harassing. The personnel's at the police department should be aware of the fallacies on sexual harassment such as, they are supposed to know that the act is not gender sensitive and it applies to both the men and women alike. The personnel should be aware that it does not require the victim to be sexually abused or physically abused to be said that it is sexual harassment. He should have a wide knowledge on sexual harassment definitions and the different behaviors that can be accounted to be sexually harassing.
According to Mary and Bendersky (2002), most women in the police department have been noted to be sexually harassed by their co workers. The extent of such attacks is not yet evident due to the fact that most cases go unmentioned. Most of those who are sexually harassed are observed not to mention the matter to those concerned for fear of being discriminated or accused falsely of having initiated the act to occur. The fact of the matter is, most women are taking precautions to protect themselves from such unruly behavior while they are in the work place.
Mary and Bendersky (2002) also noted that sexual harassment does not only occur in women, but also to men. The number of men who are sexually harassed is not so significant but it portrays that the act is common to both sexes. Researches on the matter imply that very few men are usually are sexually harassed and those who report the matter are observed to be almost nil. Naturally, it is known that women are the weaker sex and this gives them credit to fall as victims to such attacks. On the other hand, men are taken to be superior and strong in nature and so they are expected to fight their way out of such incidences. Those reported to be sexually harassed are taken to be feminine and lacking male ego and this is what contributes to less reporting of male sexual harassments.
Mary (2002), insists that the police department personnel's should distribute the sexual harassment policies to all the employees working there so that they can sign the document meaning they understand the terms and procedures to b undertaken in an event of sexual harassment. It is also expected that the harassment policy statement should include examples of sexually harassing conducts by detailing the instances of such. Some of the behaviors endorsed by the American bar association includes sexual advances such as insulting and using suggestive sounds, patting or touching, commenting about a person's sexual body parts, having sexual jokes that demean the value of men or women, repeatedly abusing or insulting the men or women, creating working environment to a place of sexual talks and behaving in a way that promises benefits after engaging in a sexual act. Such are the definitions that are used to portray that one is sexually harassed apart from being physically abused sexually.
Same-sex sexual harassment is always taken to imply sexual advances made by a homosexual employee towards another employee of the same sex. The question that comes to our mind mostly, is it really possible for a homosexual employee to harass other employee who if the same gender? Many cases have been reported concerning the issue and this implies that the behavior does exist but it is not so common in the workplaces. Most of the victims have been portrayed to be from prisons, jails or in poorly constructed rehabilitation centers that has individuals that are not right minded. The act is seen to be beastly and so inhuman to the victim being sexually harassed. Reports indicate that most men fall the victims of such attacks compared to the women of the same gender (Mary and Bendersky, 2002).
An example of such a case happened in Massachusetts lumberyards whereby three employees quit their job over claims that one of their employees humiliated them sexually through verbal and physical conduct. The one accused was called Raab. It was observed that Raab exposed himself to his three colleagues, simulating sexual behaviors and advances that belittled the other employees. Eventually the three employees quit working with the company and sued on the ground that they were sexually harassed by Raab. On being taken to the court, the trial judge and the supreme judicial court came to the conclusion that the conduct of Raab was inclusive of sexual harassment as it humiliated, intimidated and interfered with the three employees working environment making it not conducive for work. They indicate that both his behavior and talk constituted sexual harassment as it was an unwelcome sexual advance to the employees.
Sexual harassment cases are so common in courts and most of them include members of the superior positions towards their subordinates. On such a case is illustrated in the case between a lady professor (Anita Hill) and her boss (Clarence Thomas). Anita hill accused Thomas of sexually harassing her while she was working for him in the U.S. Department. This was case that was held between the years 1981 and 1983 and it involved hearings before the senate Judiciary Committee. The case brought about a lot of questing pertaining to Anita's credibility, how Thomas behaved and extends of sexual harassment that is portrayed in the places of work. The senate judiciary committee was made up of 12 white male members who were observed to be none biased when conducting the case. Most of the women's group in the state saw the senator's behavior unfair because it did not focus on the element of sexual harassment that was committed on Anita Hill.
In the year 1991, Anita hill decided to publicly accuse Thomas of sexual harassing her. The Judiciary Committee then decided to conduct investigations about the matter by involving the help of federal bureau of investigation; the FBI then conducted investigations on both Anita Hill and Thomas separately and came up with its evidence. After this, the judicial committee decided to give them a chance to testify before the court of justice on the allegations that were made. On the hearings, Anita Hill claimed that after she refuse dating him, Thomas did not stop from there but continued to initiate sexual talks whenever they were together in addition to using pornographic films to display his message.
Although she gave detailed information about how he tried to allure her into having sexual relations with her, the crowd that supported Thomas disagreed with her accusations. The supporters claimed that hill may have fantasized about the conversations that she had with Thomas and taken it to be a form of sexual advancement which could be possible for Thomas to do. This made the senator curious and took the step to question hill on why she still followed Thomas even after he was transferred from his place of work. Anita hill defended herself saying that she had her focus on getting a better job at the slightest opportunity she got and she could not throw away her chance when she got one that involved working with Thomas still.
Thomas on the other side decided to play victim and denied all the allegations that were laid on him. He indicated that he was being accused because he was of a different race from Anita. He further claimed that it had been normality for an African American male to be accused of such allegations and therefore he insisted that his case was such an example. His impassioned defense seemed to be active as they did not question much on him and instead showed sympathy on him which affected the way the observers viewed the case. The case though true, did not favor Anita Hill. The public instead accused her of being romantically crazy about Thomas and that is why she decided to do so after he failed to go along her romantic wishes. The case had so much impact on the other women in the state who even if they had faced the same case, could not come to the public and proclaim their story.
The case demonstrates that the police departments have the responsibility of conducting fair investigation concerning matters that involve sexual harassment accusations. Mary (2001) observes that such cases are usually tricky especially if the accused and the victim used to be great friends or used to be working under the same environment. They should first ascertain the kind of relationship that existed between the two defenders so as to intelligently solve the matter. Studies conducted on when and where the sexual harassment offenses were committed, indicated that most of the victims could not even recall the day the incident occurred. A study by Mary (2002), indicted that a higher percentage, around 65%, occurred in a public place and this included in the streets, just outside shopping centers and offices or in any place that is meant for entertainment. Almost 18% of the reported cases showed that most victims were sexually harassed privately or when in someone else's home. It was also reported that the incidents happened to the victims when they were alone with the attacker. They claimed that the attacker usually took the advantage of the situation to bring about the topic of sexual advance or a tempting reward in favor of a sexual favor. The percentage of occurrence on those living in the cities and urban centers proved to be higher than those who live in the rural areas.
Another interesting discovery by Orit (2005), indicted that a higher percentage of the reported cases knew the offenders (around 70%) by name while a few (less than 13%) indicated that they did not know the offender by name but by the physical appearance only. Mary and Bendersky (2002), noted that most of the unreported incidences involved the attack by a family member or one of the colleagues in the work place who has some influence over their job. He indicated that in such cases the victim could not be in a position to report the matter for fear of being victimized or told to quit their job as a result. In order to protect their job position and reputation, most of them would decide to stay quiet on the matter unless it is of a physical visual nature.
On reporting o the police and the services they received, most of the sexual harassment victims (especially women), did not report the incidents to the police. Mary (2002), noted that most of the women could not come to terms of explaining the incident to a police officer for fear that they can be accused of being the cause of it to happen. Apart from this, most of them indicated that they did not see the need to report the matter as they took it to be 'just a small issue that can be solved'. Others were scared of the long procedures that were involved when filing a case. Others also indicated that the court was not always dependable on solving such matters as they can decide to protect an offender if it happens that the two are more related in some way.
All these are some of the reasons that have contributed to the low levels of reported sexual harassment incidents in the police departments. The trend that was observed indicted that most women who lived in the cities and suburban areas had a higher probability of going to the police to report such incidences than those who lived in the rural areas. According to William and Delahunty (2004), the rate of sexual harassment in the cities is usually higher compared to the rural areas. He explains that those living in the cities have high levels of exposure to western lifestyle and they are most likely to behave in an unworthy manner. Those in the rural areas have been observed to follow social norms and cultures in which most of them prohibit disturbing and disapproving behaviors in the public.
The most common reasons given by sexual harassment victims towards not reporting their incidents to the police were that they felt ashamed of reporting the incident. Another explanation was that the police did not do anything about the reported incident; instead they just gave them false promises about solving the problem. William and Delahunty (2004) noted that most of the victims were dissatisfied with the services they received from the police. They claimed that the police did not only investigate their cases, but they also portrayed unprofessional approaches when dealing with them. Seriousness on the part of police men was deemed to be low and so most victims did not see the need to go and report their matter to them.
According to William and Delahunty (2004), happenings of such cases had a lot of impact on the victim of sexual harassment. He noted that a higher percentage of those who fall victim of such changed their behaviors immediately after the occurrence. Studies conducted by Margaret (2001), indicated that the victims could either avoid the places where the incident took place or avoided the persons that made the attack on them. It was also observed that others decided to improve their home securities, especially the women, to avoid future attacks by the offenders. As in most cases, most of the women were attacked when they were alone and this has made them to be more cautious when dealing with persons who show signs of violence or using excessive drugs and alcohol.
In combating sexual harassment, it is advisable for the police department to improve its services when dealing with the victims. They should implement use of a policy which focuses on solving the cases with immediate effect using minimum periods of time. The policy should hold confidentiality of all complaints that are made by the victim even if it involves investigating about the matter.
According to William and Delahunty (2004), the effect of sexual harassment depends on an individual personality and the duration under which the individual has been exposed to sexual harassment. Psychologists and other medical social workers indicate that sexual harassment in an individual has the same effect as when an individual is raped or undergoes through sexual assault case. Moreover, every year, it has been reported that most ladies and women fall out of their jobs due to the unfavorable conditions they are expose to by their bosses. Some of the common effects that can be seen in the victims include decreased performance in school or at work, loss of a job, defamation of an individual's character and name, lack of trust in individuals who have the same positions as that of the past offender or lack of trust of places that are similar to where the incident occurred, shame, guilt and sometimes depression. According to Mary (2002), most of the victims that suffer such effects do not show it on the outside but they keep it to themselves.
From the above cases it is evident that the police department has the responsibility of taking care of victims that fall under sexual harassment. Paul (2002) has noted that most of sexual harassment cases go unreported to the police because the victims do not trust the police on keeping the information confidential and that most of the police officers do not take time to investigate the matter. It should be made known to all police employees that they have duty to protect sexual harassment which is stipulated under Title VII. The police personnel's should firmly raise the subject and make it known to all the employees that they should handle the subject with seriousness. All those found guilty of an offense should be charged accordingly to prevent the spread of the habit especially in work places. Employers are supposed to enlighten their employees on what the law says about sexual harassment. The employees need to be enlightened on what behaviors constitute sexual advance or sexual harassment. According to Margaret (2001), it is only through the services offered by the police department that will help reduce the rate of sexual harassment in the city centers. They are supposed to conduct thorough investigations on matters that concern sexual harassment in both men and women irrespective of the places they are committed.
The police department is advised to respond accordingly to public's request of fair treatment by taking investigative actions to protect citizens against sexual harassment. It is also recommended that there is need for further investigations on matters that pertain to sexual harassment and looking for appropriate solutions to combat it. In order to fight this vice in the community and place of work, it is advisable that the public be organized programs that will educate them on matter dealing with sexual harassment. This will enable them to be in a position to know how best to avoid sexual advances and harassment and also taught on how best to respond when such an incident occurs. Shedding more light on the issue is the only way that the police department can fight against the vice in the society.