The recent onslaught stories about sexual harassmenthave provided reasons for great reflection by many people. It has caused those in influential positions toreflect on how they treat others in the workplace. Most importantly, it hasempowered many people, particularly women, to feel confident knowing they havethe right to live free from harassment and speak out when being sexuallyviolated. Recent studies conducted by Statistics Canada displayed that as muchas one in three women are affected by sexual violence in Canada and it alsoconfirms that 43% of women have been sexually harassed in their workplace(Canadian’s Women Foundation, n.
d.). Although it has been many months since the revelationsthat came in daily in wake of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein andother Hollywood stars, they are still sparking conversations today.
Inaddition, it may perhaps sparked a cultural shift regarding sexual violence andhopefully into Canadian workplaces as well. Women were more than twice aslikely as men to say they had experienced unwanted sexual contact while at work(Canadian’s Women Foundation, n.d.). This new wave of action against dominant,predatory figures in Hollywood is a crucial step in addressing the prevalenceof sexual assault.
It’s good that dozens of female public figures are publiclycoming out about Harvey Weinstein’s deliberate acts, but since most women whocome forward about sexual assault are often discredited, blamed, sociallyostracized, or faced with retaliation, resulting in frightened victims. Infact, only 5% of sexual assaults were reported to the police in 2014(Canadian’s Women Foundation, n.d.).
This is because most of the victims don’thave a million-dollar safety net to fall back on and that’s why a change isneeded to the Canadian criminal justice system. Workplace sexual harassment wasdefined by the Supreme Court of Canada as “unwelcome conduct of a sexualnature that detrimentally affects the work environment or leads to adversejob-related consequences for the victims of the harassment” (Lublin, 2017).This is a rather broad definition of workplace sexual harassment. Any unwantedsexual behaviour should be considered as sexual violence. A survivor could beseverely affected by all forms of sexual violence, including unwanted fondling,rubbing, kissing, or other sexual acts. There are also many forms of sexualviolence that involve no physical contact, such as stalking or distributingintimate visual recordings (Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2017). All of these acts are serious and canbe damaging.
In a Global/Ipsos Reid poll, the most common reason women providedfor not reporting a sexual assault to the police was due to feeling young andpowerless (56%) (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2016). Forty per cent ofrespondents said they stayed silent because of the shame they felt and 29%placed the blame on themselves for the assault (Canadian Women’s Foundation,2016). Others worried that reporting would bring dishonour to their families,feared retaliation from their attacker, or had no faith in the criminal justicesystem (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2016).Society’s understanding of sexual violence can beinfluenced by misinterpretations and false beliefs. Thus separating myths fromfacts is also critical to stopping sexual violence.
One of the most thought ofmyths of sexual assault come from those who believe that sexual assault is mostoften committed by strangers – but a recent study disproves that. The latestfindings by Statistics Canada demonstrate that based on the majority of sexualassaults that were laid by the police; about 87% of victims knew theirassailant most commonly as a casual acquaintance, a familymember, or an intimate partner (Rotenberg, 2017).The backlash on Harvey Weinstein rosemen, and in addition to women, to speak up about sexual violence in theirworkplace. This is important because with more people talking about theproblem, we can hope that society is heading to a “new normal.” So instead ofsupporting lawyers who work to silence victims, workplaces should try evolvingthe culture from a patriarchal system of entitlement to one where victims neverhave to be afraid. Although there are still people who disagree that sexualviolence is occurring in their work place, we should not omit that real changerequires strength, determination and understanding, that we’re all flawed individualswho must and can grow.
Without that, the alternative is a toxic and divisivefuture. To conclude this, it is advised youhave conversations about sexual violence with your friends, family, andacquaintances. In order to have a net positive effect on our society, we needto change society’s perspective on sexual violence and continue conversationsthat lead to change. References Anderson, B. (2017, October 31). Sexual harassment of women iswidespread in Canada. Retrieved January 14, 2018, fromhttp://abacusdata.
ca/sexual-harassment-of-women-is-widespread-in-canada/ Canadianian Women’s Foundation. (2016, August). Sexualharassment and assault fact sheet (Publication). Retrieved January 18,2018, from Canadian Women’s Foundation website:https://www.canadianwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Facts-About-Sexual-Assault-and-Harassment.
pdf Canadian’s Women Foundation. (n.d.). Sexual assault and harassment.Retrieved January 14, 2018, from https://www.canadianwomen.org/the-facts/sexual-assault-harassment/ Ireland, N.
(2017, November 01). More than half of adult women in Canadahave experienced ‘unwanted sexual pressure,’ online survey suggests. RetrievedJanuary 14, 2018, from http://www.cbc.
ca/news/health/sexual-harassment-women-in-canada-abacus-1.4382494 Lublin, D. (2017, November 30).
What counts as workplace sexualharassment in Canada? Retrieved January 18, 2018, fromhttps://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/leadership-lab/what-counts-as-workplace-sexual-harassment-in-canada/article37137194/ Queen’s Printer for Ontario.
(2017, December 14). Let’s stop sexualharassment and violence. Retrieved January 14, 2018, fromhttps://www.
ontario.ca/page/lets-stop-sexual-harassment-and-violence#foot-1 Rotenberg, C. (2017, October 03). A statistical profile of sexualassaults reported by police in Canada between 2009 and 2014.
Retrieved January18, 2018, fromhttps://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2017001/article/54866-eng.htm