Sexual Harassment

Recently a welcome change was seen when some women decided to take up archery.

However, in a viral video on social media some male archers were sexually harassing and misbehaving with some women archers at the first opportunity.

As with rape, sexual harassment is not about sex but it is about power and its abuse.

The male archers are not comfortable sharing a male only domain for centuries and their sexual harassment of women archers is one way to show their dominance.

On the other hand, women singers hired to distract male archers by touching their private parts is also not welcome and is also sexual harassment.

Going from the archery field to the work place, sexual harassment is a major barrier for women at the work place.

This is again a power game where usually male bosses misuse their power position to sexually harass female subordinates or at times even colleagues.

In the Bhutanese context, at times, a sexual relationship at the workplace between a male boss and his female junior is seen as being ‘consensual’ as long as the employee does not scream rape.

However, this is one of the worst forms of abuse of power, sexual harassment and sexual exploitation.

Sex can almost never be consensual in a work place with the power dynamics difference between a boss and an employee.

It compromises not only the two, but also the entire organization where the act is occurring and impacts the morale of other female and even male staff.

There should be zero tolerance of such exploitation and harassment of employees by bosses, and bosses should be held to account when such cases come in the public domain.

Bosses instead of hanging around should take moral and legal accountability and step down.

In recent times Bhutanese society has taken a stronger stance against sexual harassment in various institutions.

The Judiciary has been at the forefront of such efforts with its verdict in the Sherubtse case, ILCS case, STCBL case, Punakha case and others.

With large numbers of our young professionals and the young heading to Australia we need all hands on deck at the work place. The least we can do is to ensure that the workplace is a safe place for women.

If you see harassment happening, speak up. Being harassed is terrible; having bystanders pretend they don’t notice is infinitely worse.
Celeste Ng

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