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January 21, 2020 | PBAT MAGAZINE

By Jannat Akthar, Maryam Farooq, Bobby Nan, Ruoxi Niu 

“We live in a society where women are definitely seen and treated differently. We want everybody to be able to say something to someone but we know that the reality is victims of sexual harassment usually feel like we did something wrong” said  Ms.Rosemary Milczewski, a female woman in her 30’s and Assistant Principal of Flushing International High School.

Ms. Rosmery adds that, “I have experienced myself when it comes to a man making a comment  to women having to feel like they can't just say anything or they just have to live with it. Other people being like oh it's not a big deal, now I think that happens a lot, but I don't think there is a lot happening the other way you know from women to men.”

Unfortunately, Ms. Rosmery’s experiences and feelings are not rare or unusual. Despite many advancement in women's rights, sexual harassment is just as big a problem as ever and  has not improved may even be getting worse. Just recently, it was reported that Uber has agreed to pay more than $4 million since it was create to have permitted a culture of sexual harassment and  in violation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rules. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which overseas many sexual harassment complaints the reports of sexual harassment has not decreased over time, but actually increased.


Sexual Harassment Table by Year


Clearly, sexual harassment it’s a big problem. Especially for women and it’s even people know that but some people can't do anything and same people are ignoring and it’s a huge issue in our society. Most of the people can’t raise they are voice to speak up. Sometimes fear and culture causes them to don’t speak up other times even if some people speak up the society might not believe they are words and they don’t support them.

At its core, sexual harassment is a big expression of power. Because men are more likely to be in a position of power in society and women are more likely to be in more weak and insecure positions, more sexual harassment happens to women and they are also likely to stay in silence. 

Women are not Reporting Harassment

“To correct harassment there are things that people should do they should talk to someone else they should talk to either their boss or to somebody in charge wherever it happened and not to be afraid to talk about it, you shouldn’t hold it in you should speak to someone about it,” said Ms. Grace Raffaele, teacher and writing coach at FIHS.

But the sexual harassment can take many forms and come from many people. “Physically and mentally, you can be physically harassed that's like the easiest to kind to identify because it is easier to detect, but mentally also bad when they are taking you down because of your gender or talking about something that you are uncomfortable with regards to your gender and it’s also harassment,” explained Substitute Teacher Sujin Shin.“ Sujin added, “I was at a restaurant and I was working as a waitress. And sometimes I get comments that I take as sexual harassment like girls are always moody at least once a month hahaha. It was a joke. But it’s like who are you to talk about that about me? So they were also kind of using that comment to back them up to justify themselves for not scheduling you for certain days or saying that you are not as as dependable men to work those days.”

There are many reasons why some women do not come forward, but when it is your boss or employer harassing you, there is a clear Fear of the consequences: In the workplace Many women or  people are scared of fear losing their job and they don’t speak up becuase is not  being able to find another job, being passed over for help.

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Sexual Harassment at Work


Also there is the Fear they will not be believed: they can’t speak up because  there has been a long history of women that not being believed that they think even though if they say something so people might not believe them. And most serious is a History of Being Sexually Violated: There is yet another important reason that stop women from reporting sexual wrong the fact that many of these women have already been faced by child and adult sexual abuse in the past, and it may have become normalized behavior to them.


Government is filled with Harassers 

One of the biggest obstacles to having a meaningful improvement with regards to sexual harassment is the fact that many of the men in positions of power in the government have been accused of sexual harassment themselves. 

Most significantly, the President of the United States, Donald Trump is accused of several instances of sexual harassment and assault. “At least 17 women have accused Donald Trump of varying inappropriate behavior, including allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault, all but one coming forward with their accusations before or during his bid for the White House.” At a Sept. 27, 2018 press conference, Trump brushed off the "false accusations" he has faced, saying that he was "accused by four or five women we got paid to make up stories about me."

Trump stated, "I mean, they made false statements about me, knowing they were false. I never met them. I never met these people. And, what did they do? What did they do? They took money in order to say bad things." Unsurprisingly, Trump defended his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh who was also accused of sexual assault. “In defending Kavanaugh against allegations of a sexual assault during high school, which Kavanaugh denied, Trump took the opportunity to push back against the various accusations that came up against him during his presidential run.” Even as there were calls from Several Democratic presidential candidates for the impeachment of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, Trump and many Repulican leaders were condemning the reporting of the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh as irresponsible and defended him.

A NY Times report spent 10 months investigating the allegations of sexual misconduct and assault at the center of the hearings, including one by a former Yale classmate, Deborah Ramirez. She recalled being at a dorm party where participants were drinking heavily and said that Mr. Kavanaugh had thrust his penis in her face, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it. 


Government Infographic


According To  Mr. Kevin Principal of Flushing International HS.  “I think it’s important to have equal representation in the represented and represented are representing the people. It’s important that people and represented reflect what the population look like, we give all the perspective that they want. We don’t want someone that is disconnected from who they are consecuen to other people that they are represented from and if we don’t have that then i think government is not working for the people. The whole purpose of government is for the people by the people. It’s important to have that by the people representing  all our people and that means having represented that understand our culture, our neighborhood” 


Inadequate Legal Protection

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Civil RIghts Act is a federal law and Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government. It states that: “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”

Despite the apparent legal protection, the steps to obtain justice is very stringent and difficult. First, If you work for the federal government, you must first file a discrimination complaint with the EEOC before you are able to file a civil lawsuit. In addition to discrimination based on sex, race, natural origin, and a number of other categories, an EEOC discrimination complaint may also cover matters such as sexual harassment and equal compensation. Then You must contact an EEOC counselor within 45 days of the day the harassment happened. And you must file your complaint within 15 days of the day after you were notified by your EEOC counselor about the filing process and the federal agency you work for is required to give you a reasonable amount of time during your workday to prepare the complaint. As stated above, only about 13,000 of these cases were reported in the past year.

In New York, Sexual harassment can fall under the New York Penal Code  §130.00 through §130.90 if it involves the following elements: 

1) Forcible touching which occurs which a person intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly touches the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading.

2) Criminal Sexual Act when a person engages in oral or anal sexual conduct with another person without that person’s consent. This can be charged in the First Degree when there is force used, a Class B felony. It would be charged in the Third Degree when the person has an inability to consent, a Class E felony.

3) Sexual Abuse occurs when a person subjects another to sexual contact without consent. This can be charged in the First Degree when it is done by force, a class D felony. It would be charged in the Third Degree when it is done without consent, a class B misdemeanor.

4) Persistent Sexual Abuse is charged when a person has committed sexual abuse, Third degree or forcible touching and had been previously (within the last 10 years) convicted two or more times and sentence imposed, a class E felony.

Also, the charges have a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to take legal action against someone else. A criminal action against the perpetrator of this crime must commence within two years after commission of the offense; and If against a victim that was under 18 at the time of commission of the offense, the period of limitations does not begin to run until victim has reached the age of 18 or the offense is reported to a law enforcement agency or statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment, whichever occurs earlier.

With regard to civil charges, the statute provides that actions for civil damages for defined sexual crimes, including sexual abuse of a minor, may be brought within five years of the acts constituting the sexual offense.  Civil Cases is a case between two or more private parties and not by the government or prosecutor. 

In all, the federal laws and the state laws have proven to not help women to come forward or to get justice for their abuse.


Training is not Enough


Under current rules, every employer in New York State did the required to give employees with sexual harassment  training.  Additonally, by January 1, 2020, at employers with at least five employees must give at least two hours of sexual  harassment training to all supervisory employees and at least one hour of sexual harassment training to all non-supervisory employees in California.  

The training must be once every two years.  Teachers in NYC must get sexual harassment training.  “Yes, I do, all teachers do every year a sexual harassment training. We watch a video and then we answer questions based on the video. I think if they are going to do the training. It should be more training. It shouldn't be just watch one video and be like we did our job. I think everyone should do a more detailed training” said Mr. Tony Tsai, 12 grade History Teacher of FIHS.

“Yes every single employ from new york city department of education has to go throw sexual harassment training and they have to do yearly. So right now the sexual harassment training everyone in the staff has to be train by sometimes early february so everyone from the office staff. Everyone has to go through the training about it. It’s a webinar so you have to go on and you have to watch some videos and they ask you some questions and you have to answer what is it. So you learn what your rights are if you benig sexualy harassd and also what sexualy harassment is. I think they could be better I think watching a video and then giving us different senior isn’t really the best way for people to really learn about sexual harassment. Just like anything we learn right. we can't stick you front of something on a computer  say ok learn all the information. It’s better for you to learn by sitting in a group and talking and working on things anything like that. So I do thing it could be better. We do the training individually,e very teacher and everyone has to do individually. I think it could be better. We could have better conversations and I think it would make it more effective because each school is different so I think our school can talk about it what is mean to our school and see.” said Mr. Kevin, Principal of FIHS.

“Any school in New York City all of the teacher have to do sexual harassment training every year. I dont think the student have to do sexual harassment traing, just the teacher have to do it about being proffesional in our work place. I dont think so its a most affective training because its all on the internet and its not really like talking to people and thinking about our own life its just kind of obise examples and to be honest we often dont take it as seariously as we might if it were people talking to us and doing like a real workshop with us or really make me us thinking about what sexual harassment looks like in our work place.”said Ms. Roxie, 12th Grade English teacher of FIHS.

Yes we have to do it,  I am not sure if the administration have to do it too but the teachers do. It's an online their videos and you have to answer questions. Last year I remember it took about maybe half and hour 40 minutes. I think it was pretty helpful it was informative. It made you were of  rules and laws. I thought it was pretty good. Said Ms. Elizabeth, 9,10 and 12 grade Art Teacher of FIHS.


Sexual Harassment by the Numbers: Survey Data

According to the data compiled by Equal Rights Lawyer Women's Law Center in the U.S., from 90 to 95% of sexually harassed women face stress reaction, including anxiety, depression, headaches, sleep disorders, weight loss or gain. Sexual harassment has a big effect on human which is  discourages women from support themselves enough in the workplace. Sexual harassment in some types of businesses creates hostile environments which is causes women to leave their jobs, sexual harassment can also causing someone to lose their hope. 


When discussing how she thinks “So we live in a society where women are definitely seen and treated differently. I mean it’s not just now it’s part of the history women’s rights have not been the same as men’s rights throughout history.” said Ms. Rosmery. “It might seem like it is but in reality we do not get the same treatment. There is definitely I think when it comes to sexual harassment men and women face it very differently and perceive it very differently.” Ms.Rosemary.

“It’s tough because to be honest I don’t think you can ever fully stop it fully because you can never know what a person’s heart and mind telling them to do intentions. Sexual harassment can be physical can be like through social media it can be comment sexual harassment has many different forms. We want everybody to be able to say something to someone but we know that the reality is victims of sexual harassment usually feel like we did something wrong“ Ms.Rosemary.

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