Sexual harassment is not a word that is easy to define but it is a word whose meaning is yet simple even though people shy away from explaining what it really means. I will give four scenarios that will help you understand what it means.
Scenario 1: A girl of about fifteen years old was on a bike going to school and during the ride with the bike man she noticed the bike man was moving back every now and then and encroaching on the space that should be between her and the bike man. And instead of her to tell the man politely that he was encroaching on her space, she didn’t say a word. All she did was to put her school bag between her and the bike man and she continued to push the man forward till she got down. when she eventually got down from the bike, the bike man said in Yoruba “se Iwo ro boya ogbon ni?” Meaning “so you think you are wise?” She paid her transport fare without asking the man what he meant by what he said. You could have thought she did the right thing by not confronting the man because he was older than her; he should be in his forties but she shouldn’t have just placed her bag between her and the man. She should have done more than that. She should have told the man firmly to stop encroaching on her space. What if she wasn’t with her bag what would she have done? The man was trying to take advantage of her age and tap current from her (I hope you understand what I mean?) Please, stay with me I’m going somewhere.
Scenario 2: A girl co-biked with a guy she doesn’t know (which is a very great mistake. You should never co-bike with an opposite sex) but she wasn’t seated in the middle of the two guys, she sat at their back( she was wise in that aspect). During the ride she noticed a hand on her lap and the hand was not just on her lap, the hand was rubbing her lap. Immediately she noticed, she slapped the hand which was the hand of the guy seated at her front. The guy couldn’t say anything because he knew what he was doing was wrong and the girl got down from the bike happy that she defended herself and probably taught the guy a lesson never to try to take advantage of any other girl. I hope you are getting my point? Please, stay with me i’m still ‘biking’ somewhere.
Scenario 3: A girl was alone in the shop where she was an apprentice early in the morning of a public holiday. Being a public holiday, the environment was quiet because people weren’t around. A married man who was a friend to her boss and who she has always greeted and respected in previous times came into the shop and sat beside her. At first she thought he came to pick something from their shop but when he started talking to her and place his hand on her lap she then noticed that has was there for another purpose ( please note that she wasn’t dressed in a provocative way). She sat well so his hand was no longer on her lap but she didn’t say anything to confront the man about his action. He then went ahead to pat her cheek. In her mind she was looking for a means of escape but the man was sitted on bench that was on her way. It was as if the alarm on her head went off. She couldn’t say or do anything. Finally her boss came to her rescue but didn’t realize what was happening. The girl was mad with herself because she didn’t stand up for herself and that has probably sent a wrong message to the man.
My question is can you imagine what could have happened to her if her boss didn’t come at the right time? She could have been RAPED!
Scenario 4: Lastly, a girl was sitted beside the driver’s sit and she was struggling to open the door so she could get down from the vehicle. The man wanted to help her and he stretched his hand across her chest to help her open the door and in the process pressed her breast. You could think it was a mistake but I think if it was, he could have said sorry and not pretend as if nothing happened. If he had said sorry the girl would have felt dignified and not been taken advantage of. She should have told the man firmly to please remove his hand.
I hope you’ve gotten the meaning of sexual harassment from the scenarios I gave and that you’ve learned one lesson or the other from them? One thing I’ve come to learn about sexual harassment is that if it isn’t properly handled it can go out of hand and lead into something you didn’t plan for. I’ve also notice that most cases of rape didn’t just happen because the victim dressed in a provocative way but because prior to that time, the victim was harassed by the rapist and did nothing about it.
Sexual harassment can be as minute as someone making lewd remarks about any part of your body most especially about the sensitive part of your body. One of my goals for writing this is to see girls grow in a safe environment where they can be free to be themselves and not taken advantage of.
So I would say, to avoid been sexually harassed take note of the following:
1. Watch what you wear because the way you are dressed is the way you would be addressed.
2. Speak up and stand up for yourself when you are sexually harassed. Being a girl doesn’t mean you can’t stand up for yourself. Being submissive isn’t equal to not been able to stand up for yourself. Learn to say NO and mean it. Learn to look the harasser in the eye when talking to him; this will make him know that you are not scared of him. It isn’t disrespectful, it is fighting for yourself.
3. If you can take a self defense class please do. It will help you to be able to fight physically if the need arises to protect yourself against anyone who wants to harm you. Even the Bible says the children of the dark are wiser than the children of light. It is high time we wise up and do everything we can to protect ourselves from been harmed and let God do His. But please note that this is not an excuse for you to become violent. It is just a means of defending yourself when you feel that you are in danger.
4. Mentally prepare yourself for what you will do or say if you are sexually harassed. It will help you if you aren’t naturally the confronting type. It doesn’t mean that you are expecting anything evil to happen to you it just means that you are preparing yourself for how you will handle it if it happens so you won’t be caught unawares.
5. Above all, let God guide you and keep you. Follow the leading of his spirit that dwells within you as his child. God loves you and want you to live a safe life without fear in this crooked and perverse world.
I love you but not as much as God does!