South Asia might be a vibrant hub of culture and innovation, but it’s also home to some alarming statistics. Did you know that South Asia has the second-lowest female labor force participation rate, at only 22% globally? But wait, there’s more—workplace harassment levels are through the roof, affecting 30-40% of women in the region.

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What is workplace harassment?

Workplace harassment is unwelcome conduct that creates a hostile work environment. This can manifest in various forms, including:

  • Verbal Harassment: This involves using words to intimidate, degrade, or offend others. It may include insults, derogatory remarks, offensive jokes, or yelling that target an individual’s race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristics.
  • Physical Harassment: This involves any unwelcome physical contact or behavior that is threatening, harmful, or humiliating. This can include hitting, pushing, shoving, or other forms of physical aggression.
  • Sexual Harassment: This encompasses unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, physical, or visual conduct of a sexual nature. It can include comments about a person’s appearance, sexually explicit jokes, unwanted touching, or more severe forms of sexual assault.
  • Non-Verbal Harassment: This involves actions or gestures that are meant to intimidate, humiliate, or offend others without the use of words. It may include gestures, facial expressions, or other non-verbal cues.
  • Cyber Harassment: This involves sending threatening or offensive messages, spreading rumors or lies, or otherwise harassing others using social media, email, or other digital platforms.
  • Psychological Harassment (also known as emotional harassment): This involves behavior that is intended to undermine, manipulate, or control others psychologically. It may include threats, intimidation, gaslighting, or other forms of psychological abuse.
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What can we do?

Ultimately, creating a safe and respectful work environment is a shared responsibility. Employers need to actively uphold clear anti-harassment policies, provide training, and foster a culture of open communication. As employees, we must challenge inappropriate behavior, stand up for ourselves and others, and collectively demand a workplace free from harassment.

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