Obscene jokes, verbalize sexual fantasies, make gifts repetitively, put your hand on the shoulder … These are practices that could be considered sexual harassment in the work environment. Some data: 90% of the victims of these behaviors are women, according to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. Between 2008 and 2015, 2,484 women reported having suffered sexual harassment in their jobs, according to UGT data. They are the latest available figures, updating them is a demand of unions and associations of victims. But even so, "the reality is that more than 65% of the victims do not dare to denounce", regrets María García, spokesperson for Mujeres en Igualdad.
The decision not to do so hides the fear of reprisals and being fired. "In most cases, what happens in companies is that instead of taking measures against the harasser it is the victim who receives the reprisals", Says Cristina Antoñanzas, vice secretary of UGT. Layoffs, changes of posts and, in the case of large companies, transfers of delegation are the damages that must be faced, as reported by the union representative.
Psychologically, the assumption that he has been a victim of sexual harassment at work brings with him all the elements of masochism: doubts, guilt, discomfort … "Taking the step of denouncing supposes, in most cases, an internal struggle. On the one hand acts dignity and respect for oneself, on the other the fear of not being believed and to lose the job, "says José Luis Pedreira, head of psychiatry at the Hospital de la Luz.
Sexual harassment at work is an extended phenomenon that little is reported but that is judged even less. In the same period, between 2008 and 2015, only 49 sentences condemned the aggressor. "To be able to condemn a performance of this kind, tests are needed and getting them is not always easy," says Judge Lara Esteve. Photos, videos, witnesses and, of course, the psychological assessment of the victim may be worth proof, according to Esteve. "In the case of the former, they are not always there because the aggressor is careful not to leave evidence. And the witnesses often refuse to show their face for the same fear of reprisals as the victims, "acknowledges the judge.
To this reality we must add that "many judges continue ruling sentences that blame the victim for wearing very short skirts, necklines or not resist," as denounced by Paula Mattio, lawyer and expert in gender equality and conciliation. On the other hand, the penalties for the aggressors are very low. Criminal protection takes place only in very serious cases and the penalties are only a few months in prison.
- What can companies do?
Google, Microsoft, La Caixa … are some of the companies that have been involved in cases of sexual harassment. According to the law, organizations must promote working conditions that avoid these situations and arbitrate specific procedures for their prevention and to channel the complaints or claims that may be made by their employees.
According to a Decree Law, equality plans are mandatory for all companies with 50 employees. This has not always been the case, the figure has changed recently. Until last March 1, only companies with more than 250 workers were required to have an equality plan. But having a protocol before sexual harassment situations was and still is optional. Even so, the percentage of companies that comply with the obligation to have an equality plan is very small. "Of the million and a half of Spanish companies, only 4,500 are obliged to have it. And, of them, only 276 have it. If we talk about anti-bullying protocols, we can only talk about a handful of companies, "says Cristina Antoñanzas, vice secretary of UGT.
The lawyer and gender equality expert Paula Mattio maintains a more optimistic view. "Not all communities are required to have records, I estimate that between 30% and 50% of companies have equality plans, although I'm with Antoñanzas in which very few have protocols against sexual harassment," he says. According to your data, this lack of protocols makes practically in half of the situations of harassment the companies do nothing. "The most important thing is that these protocols and ethical codes establish deadlines. It can not happen that the denunciations are delayed in time. The ideal is that the investigations last 15 days, at most a month, it can not be that the resolutions of a complaint are postponed for months, "Mattio presents.
What should these action protocols consist of? According to Ricardo Trujillo, senior manager For Forética, these action plans may include different measures aimed at identifying and eradicating these situations. Among them, adopt ethical codes where organizational commitment is established in this issue, protocols to identify risk situations, channels of complaints with guarantees of objectivity and confidentiality -without retaliation to those who denounce and with resources to investigate and take concrete measures-, measures of prevention, attention and help to the victims and plans of sensitization to all the employees and of formation for the members of the commission.
The decision to do it or not
Since the movement originated #MeToo, the visualization of cases has increased exponentially. Proof of this is that visits to the Spanish portal Jupsin.com (Justice, Psychology and Information to decide) grew by 84.3% during 2018. "If we continue at this rate, in June we will get the same visits as in all 2018", says the partner and web director, Nuria Martínez.
Given the growing visibility of these situations, Harvard University recently conducted a study on how companies can be harmed publicly if within their organizations a case of sexual harassment originates. The results of the surveys resolved that the image of the companies was greatly damaged but that if it acted in protection to the victim, the public opinion did not distinguish between a company in which a case of harassment had arisen and one in which it had not arisen. .
"Transparency is a very important value from the business point of view. On the other hand, that a case in which it has acted as it should be made public help to victims to dare to take the step", Says Hilda I. Arbonés, labor lawyer. But he adds that it is important to choose the moment in which it is made public, since in no case should it be done when the research process is underway.
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