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Sexual harassment / undesirable behaviour

Which remarks or behaviours qualify as sexual harassment?

Indecent assault and rape are clear-cut examples of sexual harassment. Ambiguous jokes, a casual stroke or a pat on the back, however, are less unequivocal. Something considered normal or nice by one person may be experienced as uncomfortable or humiliating by someone else.

Of course there is nothing wrong with a spontaneous expression of affection or appreciation that both parties are comfortable with. Sexual harassment means that behaviour is experienced as unpleasant, annoying, humiliating or threatening by the ‘recipient’. It can happen to anyone, anywhere. Research has shown that girls and women experience sexual harassment more often, but men and boys can fall victim too.

Undesirable behaviour in a broader sense

Sexual harassment is only one form of undesirable behaviour; it also covers stalking, bullying (including ignoring and excluding), aggression, violence and discrimination.

Talk about it!

In practice it turns out to be very difficult to react adequately to undesirable behaviour by others. Should you laugh along with the others about nasty jokes? Hope that it will pass? Try to avoid that particular fellow student or lecturer?

You should always talk about it, if possible with the relevant person directly, but if this is too difficult you can also contact the study advisor, a student counsellor  or the RUG Confidential Advisor. If you want, the student counsellor or Confidential Advisor can help you lodge a formal complaint with the Complaints Committee.
Last modified:27 September 2019 2.31 p.m.
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