By Yetunde Arebi
Sexual harassment is no longer a myth in our society. From the offices to schools and even social andÂ religious places, it is the same story. Often times, victims only end up being victimised again as they end up being blamed They must have done something to warrant such harassment.
What could this be? How does one shake off a sexual harassment? What happens after an harassment has successfully taken place? With these questions in mind, we asked a few respondents who all claimed to have fallen victims of sexual harassment, how it happened and what they did afterwards.
As usual, we are expecting you to send in your contributions on this issue. We will also be glad if you can share a true life experience of you or someone you know along with your contribution. Our mailing addresses remain: The Human Angle, Vanguard, P.M.B. 1007, Apapa, Lagos. Or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan,22,an undergraduate, tells a vivid story of sexual harassment of students by lectures in one of the nationâ€™s institutions of higher learning with a personal experience.Â Her story continues today. Happy reading!
Lizzy, (30), a Secretary narrates how she was also harassed by the Personnel Manager of a company where she went job hunting when she first arrived Lagos. Her story:
The other girls were quite pretty too, and well dressed. They wore fashionable clothes and heavy make-up, but I thought I was unique since I did everything moderately. I was proved right once again when we were now short listed to two. So, the contest was between myself and the girl.
A few minutes after we were given the result of the oral interview, someone came and asked us to wait for the administrative manager. It was just a little after noon. We were ushered into a waiting room and there we sat for the next four hours. Nobody told us why or gave us an idea of what we were waiting for.
The girl was not friendly and I thought she was deliberately rebuffing my friendship. She would pretend not to hear me when I ask her a question. And if she was forced to answer, it would be short or monosyllabic. I knew it was because of the job and that she already saw me as an enemy. But what if they were actually going to employ two of us, and not one as we assumed?
At the close of work that evening, the Admin. Manager asked us to come to his office. There was nothing special about his looks, neither was it particularly striking. He was just there, average in every way. He asked us to take our seats, cleared his throat and without looking at either of us, he began talking.
He told us that we have both done very well. That he was proud to tell us that the company would find our services really worthwhile and we should keep up the excellent performance we have put into the interviews when we eventually start working.
At that point, even the hostile girl took a glance at me with a smile on her face. Like me, she had assumed that the two of us had made the job. Then the man dropped the bomb shell. The company regrets that it has only one vacancy to fill, and so, only one of us will get the job. He raised his head from the file he was looking at and asked which one of us it will be.
I was the first to find my tongue, and so I told him it would depend on him and the company. So, he said he has discovered a way to help him make up his mind. That he would need us to help him out. Since whoever gets the job depends on him, and both of us were qualified, the one willing to sleep with him will get the job!
I was shocked and I think so was the other girl too. We both sat there for what seemed like ages, Iâ€™m sure each thinking what to make of the proposal. Realising that his proposal was a difficult one, the man then told us to go and think about it and give him a call if we accept. As we both sat there, I began thinking about the job. Yes, it would be good if I got the job, but how would I feel whenever the man passes by me in the office after weâ€™d had sex.
Would I be expected to continue sleeping with him since he gave me the job?Â Would he just do it once and forget it ever happened? What if I start the job and my immediate boss also wants to sleep with me, that will mean two people in the same office? Or how would I feel if he decides to tell everybody that I slept with him to get the job?
I decided it was a serious matter that needed proper consideration before one could decide on the big move. Since the man had given us till the next day to think it over, I still had time on my hands and could consult with the few friends I had in Lagos. Perhaps, this was the way they secure jobs in Lagos.
But to my greatest shock, the other girl just blurted out that she was ready to do it! I stood there looking at her in shock, but she did not even seem to notice I was there again. She turned to the man and they began fixing a date, ignoring me totally. She was to go and wait for him at a joint a few meters from the office. He just told me to try my luck else where as the girl was the first to speak.
All of a sudden, a kind of boldness just crept into me, so I told him I had no intension of accepting his proposal in the first place, and that I will still get a job that I would not have to descend so low. He told me to suit myself and stood up, signifying the end of the matter.
I could not believe what had transpired as I went home. I kept thinking about it and how unlucky I was. How I had lost such a good job to another girl who was not smarter than I am. I tried to way the hassles of doing a thankless job back home for my uncleâ€™s wife and what the man had proposed. Was it really worth sacrificing a good job for? But I also knew that even if Iâ€™d taken the offer and the job, I would probably be forced to leave because I will not be comfortable there for long.
If anyone frowned or laughed too much near me, I would probably conclude theyâ€™d heard my story.
But I was also surprised to hear similar stories from friends when I told them what happened. Some even admitted to dating their bosses, just so they could protect their jobs.
They all believed that the men would begin to find fault with them and force them out of their jobs, should they refuse. Also, I was told that a Secretary that is not attached to any boss would be thrown into the pool room. And there, anything could happen to such a person.