question: should a bystander of sexual harassment who ignored the situation be
charged for the same crime as the harasser?
Intro: Sexual Harassers are
a menace to society and for a bystander to sit around and allow and/or aid the sexual
harassment makes them just as horrible. the bystanders of sexual harassment
should face the same punishment as the harassers face. Even though the
punishment isn’t harsh or jail time, the bystander should have to receive the
same punishment to prove that someone should do the right thing and stand up
for the right reasons. Often the bystander doesn’t get involved at all in
sexual harassment when the victim has no one to go to.
1: Sexual Harassment is a
type of discrimination that includes the unwanted, forceful sexual advance
towards any other person whether they be a friend, colleague, employee, boss,
student, etc. If a person is pressured or requested into doing sexual favors,
physically or verbally harassed in any sexual manner or has undesirable
movements or actions made towards them, he or she is a victim
of sexual harassment. It can
occur just about anywhere – at a store, walking down the street, during a job
interview, college – in essence, any public place.
The most common area where
sexual harassment takes place is in the workspace. Here, sexual harassment can
occur at any level such as employee to employee, boss to employee, even boss to
boss. Every year about 15,000 sexual harassment cases are taken to the EEOC.
Although this sounds like a staggering number, one in three women has
experienced sexual harassment at work yet over 70% of the occurrences in the
workforce go unreported. In many instances, the victim is too afraid to go
and file an accusation because they feel they will suffer retaliation from the
harasser in the form of poor performance reviews, being passed up for
promotions or even threats. Sexual harassment puts women in a tough position.
Not only does harassment has negative effects on one’s sense of self but, in
many instances, the women continue to tolerate the harassment because they need
the job, or the money, and it continues until a better job comes along.
A common misconception is
that males only harass females when, in reality, sexual harassment is not
gender specific. Gender bias does not exist in harassers. Females can sexually
harass men, men can sexually harass other men, and women can sexually harass
other women as well.
Another misconception is
that the victims “ask for it” by their choice of clothing or their behavior.
This is not true at all. Sexual Harassment stems from the harasser not the
victim. The choice to act inappropriately was made by the harasser not the
victim. Using the victims choice of clothing or their politeness as an excuse
is unacceptable and does not defend the harassers actions in any way. Mutual
consent is required and nothing excuses not doing that.
Another excuse is the “boys
will be boys” or “men just can’t help themselves”. This excuse is common
when the harasser is a man because of the stereotype that men’s sexual urges
are difficult to control. However, sexual harassment is not motivated by a
person’s sexual desire alone. Instead, it is motivated by the desire of the
harasser to assert power and control over someone else when, in reality, no one
has the right to control another person.
Sexual harassment is
covered under The Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that discourages
discrimination against a person based off of their religion, sex, race,
national origin, etc. This law applies to employers that have 15 or more
employees and can be applied at the local, state and federal government level.
This law is also enforced against private and public universities, any
employment agencies as well as labor organizations. Sexual harassment in the
workplace is usually treated as a civil wrong in the U.S. This means that the
victim may sue the harasser in civil court for monetary damages.
Under this act, a victim
must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, more
commonly known as the EEOC, against their employer within the first 180 days
after the first action took place. After filing the charge, the victim may then
be able to request a Right-To-Sue notice, which gives permission to file their
lawsuit in court. If an employer is found guilty of breaking this Act they can
have a multitude of punishments. Typically, the punishments will include front
and back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees. Back
Pay is repaying the employee with the wages, salary, and fringe benefits that
could’ve been earned by the employee but were not as a result of the
discriminatory act. Front Pay is money paid back to the plaintiff for lost
compensation during the duration of time between the judgement and
reinstatement of if the reinstatement is not feasible. Additionally, the
Defendant may be instructed to pay the attorney’s fees for the victim. They
might also have to pay the compensatory damages for the victim’s future and
current: emotional distress, pain, suffering, and any type of mental anguish to
the victim. These punishments are varied based to the employer based off the
number of employees.
sexual harassment itself is not a crime, there are some sexually harassing
actions that are criminal. Sexual harassment takes the form of many different
actions, some of which violate criminal statutes. Sexual assaults are the most
deplorable incidents of sexual harassment in which the harasser is also becomes
a rapist. In this instance, the assault will most likely may result in a
criminal charge of rape against the harasser and a sexual harassment lawsuit
against the assailant’s employer. Other acts, such as the intentional, offensive
physical contact or threat of such physical may also fall under the state’s
assault and/or battery criminal laws. Video taping someone in a secret way
while in a private environment, posting sexually offensive comments about a
person on social media or engaging in stalking behavior all violate criminal
Research suggests that a
substantial amount of employees directly or indirectly witnessed sexual
harassment at work. In one US study, more than 70 percent of women reported seeing
other women being sexual harassed in their work environments yet did not report
the harassment themselves. These witnesses or bystanders essentially enable the
harassment because they were aware of the situation occurring yet they chose to
not report it.
Assaulters tend to surround themselves with people who are loyal to them.
By doing so, many bystanders suffer from “blind loyalty” to the harassers.
Harassers are often protected by a culture of inaction or a culture of silence.
Sexual harassment victims
are most often threatened to stay quiet about the situation and do not have the
confidence to disclose to someone what is happening.
Bystander intervention is important when the harasser hold a position of power
or prominence. In these situations, the victim is more reluctant to come
forward when a relationship of power or imbalance exists.
There are several reasons
bystanders fail to intervene. Society’s objectification of women normalizes
harassing behavior. It’s common to view women as objects not people with
feelings. According to The
are more likely to intervene in sexual harassment situation than men. Men and
women view harassment differently with women being more uncomfortable harassment
then men. There is also a false belief that being beautiful is “good”. The
Herrera study in 2016 reveled that if the harasser is good looking, there is a
decreased tendency to view the activity as sexual harassment.
4. Some Businesses believe
the best way to prevent sexual harassment and other
poisonous actions in the workplace
would be to train workers to stand up for their colleagues if any incidents are
witnessed. The trouble with this idea is that people who do
observe harassment in the workplace don’t speak up about it because,
unfortunately, there are no consequences, criminal or civil, to the bystander.
If a bystander knows what
is happening to the person and helped the harasser in any sort of manner, the
bystander could be charged with Aiding and Abetting. When someone is charged
with Aiding and Abetting they are usually not at the scene when the crime is
committed. Rather, he or she has information of the crime, whether it occurs
before or after the fact, he or she might also assist with the crime by giving
advice, certain actions, etc.
Bystanders usually shift
the duty of preventing further harassment to the general population or to
someone else, but stopping sexual harassment is everyone’s responsibility.
Bystanders may lack the confidence to intervene or fear social embarrassment.
Usually, the victim of
sexual harassment is too afraid to speak up for themselves and there should be
someone to stand up and speak up for them. The Bystander aids in the sexual
harassment when they do not stand up or speak out for the victim. Sometimes the
bystander even AIDS in the harassment by taking the victim to area’s with the
harasser or by giving tips and information to the harasser.
No excuse is acceptable for
the bystander for not notifying someone of the harassment that is
occurring. The bystander is just as bad as the harasser because they wouldn’t
step up to protect their classmate, coworker, boss etc and allowed for the
harassment to continue. They put themselves first even though they are not the
one in danger, when potentially, the victims life could be in danger. They
create a view to the victim that no one can be trusted anymore because the
bystander didn’t stand up for the victim when he or she needed it most.
Bystanders are just as bad as the vicitms because they destroy the trust that
the victim had for their friends, coworkers, and general population for doing
the right thing.