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The following is an excerpt from a new resource Dr. Linda Wagener has developed on the topic of sexual harassment:
“Anyone who has experienced sexual harassment knows how confusing, embarrassing, awkward and stressful it is. It can drain the pleasure out of work, lead to sleepless nights, anxiety, and even fear of losing your job. Humanitarian work is designed to save lives, reduce suffering, and protect human dignity. So it seems contradictory that sexual harassment could occur in a humanitarian work context. Yet it does. Identifying, stopping and preventing sexual harassment can be difficult under any circumstances. The circumstances of humanitarian work can add to the confusion. Often co-workers are thrown closely together for long periods of time. They might live and work in the same place, limiting privacy. Isolation can lead to tunnel vision and lack of objectivity. And separation from loved ones often increases dependency on co-workers for emotional support. All of this can result in confusion about how to recognize and what to do about sexual harassment.”…. click here to read more.
As we’ve tackled this subject, we’ve focused on harassment within the work environment – colleague to colleague. But advice regarding harassment can be context specific. In many locations there are few protections for women experiencing harassment, or few guarantees that complaints will be met with justice. And yet, you’ll hear a constant theme in our advice to “act” or “speak up” when possible, even if it’s to a close friend.
Above all, we hope you’ll trust that voice inside you that tells you something’s not right. We’d love for your feedback in developing additional resources. What has helped you navigate this difficult issue in different environments? What advice do you have for others? What challenges are hard to address? We’d love to hear from you.
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