Monday, March 19, 2018

Puja Kapai on Workplace Sexual Harassment in Asia (Nikkei Asian Review)

"Time to confront workplace sexual harassment in Asia"
Puja Kapai
Nikkei Asian Review
15 March 2018
The #MeToo movement against sexual harassment that kicked off in the U.S. is starting to gain momentum in Asia. Actresses in Hong Kong, a prosecutor in South Korea, a journalist in Japan and even factory workers in China have spoken out about their experiences with workplace sexual harassment, putting to rest any notion the problem is not a concern in Asia.
     A study in 2009 by D.K. Srivastava, the former pro vice chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University, in India, found that 80% of working women in China had experienced sexual harassment at least once in their careers. Some 70% of female factory workers participating in a more recent survey conducted in the city of Guangzhou by the Sunflower Women Workers Center reported encountering sexual harassment. Similarly, 84% of female Chinese journalists polled by reporter Sophia Huang Xueqin said they suffered from workplace sexual harassment. Some 20% reported at least five such experiences, but only 3.5% had reported any incidents to senior managers. ...
     How can we transform Asian workspaces to tackle sexual harassment effectively? ...
    First, companies must revisit their anti-sexual harassment policies and complaint mechanisms and critically examine any barriers victims face...
     Second, victim support is essential...
     Third, building the capacity for and practicing effective interventions to address harmful attitudes and actions will be key to institutionalizing a cultural shift toward dismantling systemic privilege and power and responding forcefully to sexual harassment...
     Likewise, staff training can dispel patriarchal, misogynistic values and myths about women and victims of sexual harassment and violence which can lead to blame, shame or silence... Institutional change also requires that bystander intervention training be introduced, from the bottom to the top of the pecking order to ensure that inappropriate conduct is checked not only through complaints but also informally...This serves an important educational function ...
     Finally, Asia must commit to rehabilitating perpetrators instead of just passing the problem on to the next employer. This requires accountability and a program for rehabilitation with professional assistance. Only a multipronged approach can address the myriad issues which undermine effective strategies to address sexual harassment given its roots in deeply entrenched patriarchal value systems.  Click here to read the full text.

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