Sexual Violence History
There are many unjust vices that the human species commit against their fellow humans almost on a daily basis. One of these practices is sexual violence; which can be characterized under rape, sexual harassment among other vices. In definition, sexual violence can be defined as any sexual act or the intent to acquire some sexual encounter with another party through coercion or violence. The most recent definitions of sexual violence have also incorporated unwanted sexual advances or comments, intentions of trying to traffic another party for sexual purposes or even any other intentions directed against another person’s sexuality (Barickman & Paludi 14). This is regardless of the setting in which the act may occur, or even the relationship of an individual to the victim.
This is because; there are many settings under which acts of sexual violence can occur. An act of sexual violence can occur in times of war and other conflicts and also in times of peace. An act of sexual violence poses serious problems health of the public since it has devastating impacts to a victim (Berlatsky 57). These impacts can be both long term and short term, and they may cause mental and physical health problems. For instance, research proves that there is increased risk of reproductive as well as health problems, increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and also increased risks of suicide. Therefore, from this definition it is clear that many cons do emanate from acts of sexual violence, hence below research seeks to determine the history of sexual violence in the society.
In order to understand what sexual violence is all about, there is need to define what sex or human sexual activity is. In definition, human sexual activity or sex can be defined as the way in which mankind experiences and also expresses his sexuality (Holcomb 34). This is because; mankind is known to involve himself in numerous varieties of sexual practices from time to time, and also because of many reasons. Human sexual activity is known to result into sexual arousal and a couple of physiological changes in an aroused person. Some of these changes can be pronounced while others prove to be significantly of extremely subtle. A mutual sexual encounter also incorporates some activities and conducts which are meant to build up the arousal and the mutual interest in the act, but things are different when it comes to sexual violence. This is because it involves one or more partners having a sexual encounter with an individual who is not interested in the act.
Sexual violence has a very long history since its traces go back to ancient times (Barickman & Paludi 27). However, most findings in the history of sexual violence tend to trace sexual violence back to the Romans and the Greeks. This is because, these societies tended to perceive women as property who had no rights or their sexual integrity or even their bodies. As a result, rape was the order of the day during peace and war times. In fact, women used to be raped even during peace times for the act was considered as a crime against property, which would only affect the sons, brother or the husbands (Berlatsky 68). In terms of conflict, sexual violence, particularly rape was a common thing. This is because these ancient societies considered rape as a necessary war byproduct. This means that the behavior was “socially acceptable” more so within the rules of welfare.
In fact, the ancient Greeks used to take sexual violence to a whole new level. This is because; they could even attack a city for the sole reason of acquiring its women. The conquered women would be taken in as their new wives, legitimate booty, as slaves, concubines or as just mere trophies (Holcomb 86). Since sexual violence used to be the order of the day in ancient times, negligence or the methods, aims and magnitude of the violence, indicators were the face and nameless. All these events were more prevalent in the early ages.
However, there were many practices that reflected the patriarchal view of sexual violence even in the middle ages. For instance, one of the facts that characterized this period was that women could not refuse their husbands sex for they had no rights to do so (Freedman 97-98). This was more so during times of peace in these societies. There were laws that were adopted in different civilizations in the middle ages, although this did not deter rape cases. In fact, if a woman ever complained of rape, most were the times the case was dismissed as inconsequential or as justified. Additionally, the elites who heard these cases used to perceive rape as a significantly minor as a minor issues so most of the presented cases were not prosecuted. Things were different when it came to times of war. This is because, jurists, scholars and writers argued it was not possible to set up boundaries on whatever practices that were necessary in order to achieve victory in a war (Toomer et al 70-72). This insinuated that rape was acceptable as a weapon against enemies in times of war. This was until in the years between 1552 and 1608 when discussions started on prohibiting rape during peace and war times and also reduction of women suffering in hands of men. However, no effects were achieved during this time as men and women and never used to participate in wars. Therefore, the patriarchal view on women as enemies, and properties who had no right prevailed in both peace and war times.
However, with time there were leaderships that recognized women as fellow human beings and not as property. For instance, even in the American civil war, President Lincoln tried to control the behavior of his soldier in the battle field. One of the most significant regulations that he adopted was the prohibition of explicit rape to all union soldier in the infamous Lieber Code of 1863 (Toomer et al 109). One year later, the Geneva Convention also advocated for the protection of family honor and rights, specifically prohibiting rape. However, since enforcing this directive in times of war was extremely challenging, military commander leading were given the mandate of executing any of their soldiers who would go against this directive on the spot.
The world also came together to fight the vice after World War I with the formation of War Crimes Commission. Under this commission, rape and sexual violence were realized as very serious violations of laws and customs of war. Therefore those who participated in forced prostitution, rape, sexual torture, sexual slavery, pornography, forced nudity, forced abortion and sexual sadism among other related crimes went through trials, and if found guilty they could be prosecuted. When the Second World War came, sexual violence became one of the gravest crime against humanity and also a war crime in itself (Freedman 132-133). Therefore, when the war ended, the world came together in arms ready t curb the vice. This led to introduction of numerous terminologies describing numerous form s of sexual violence. Sexual harassment was described as one of the most significant 20th century terminologies as it described numerous ways of sexual violence.
One of these terminologies which is widely accepted and used to date is sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can be defined as any sort of sexual advance that is unwelcome. Demand for sexual favors or physical contact that is said to be of a sexual manner or nature that takes place in different environments is also sexual harassment. One of the most places where the act of sexual harassment occurs is at one’s place of work. The above constitute sexual harassment when submission to such sexual advances is made, either implicitly or explicitly a condition of an individual’s employment, if rejection or submission to said sexual advances is used by an employer on the basis of making decisions regarding employment of an individual or if the sexual advances are aimed at or results in creating a hostile working environment for an individual (Barickman & Paludi 53). A crucial point of this act is in the use of the word “unwelcome.” This is to mean that though welcomed sexual advances may be in breach of company policy or may cause unease towards other coworkers, they cannot be termed as unlawful. This paper will look at what sexual harassment is and how the human resources department goes about cases of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Victims of this type of sexual discrimination may sue under the civil rights act of 1964. The act prohibits any kind of sexual discrimination in a workplace setting. Sexual harassment was not considered as a form of sexual discrimination by the federal courts until the 1970s. Until then, many women have suffered due to sexual harassment (Toomer et al 153). Many have lost their jobs because they did not yield to their employer’s sexual advances. Now however, employers have been made aware of the fact that employees can sue if they are harassed sexually. Sexual harassment is often associated with a heterosexual employee or employer making sexual advances that are unwelcome towards another heterosexual employee. There have however been cases of same sex sexual harassment and even sexual harassment cases of heterosexual employees or employers towards other heterosexual employees of the same sex. To end all the act, the Supreme Judicial court of Massachusetts ruled that sexual orientation of the parties would not be a consideration in making rulings in cases of sexual harassment.
Sexual harassments include many things. For example, rape or attempted rape, sexual assault, unwanted deliberate touching, cat calling, giving of gifts that may be considered personal, and many others. Some examples of verbal sexual harassment include: reference to an adult using terms like girl, babe or hunk, telling of sexual jokes or stories or even repeatedly asking a person out even though they express disinterest. In India, casual movements such as a pat on the back may warrant one to form a complaint with human resources or even take legal action.
Despite the amount of awareness and publicity that has been spread about the perils associated with sexual harassment, studies show that few businesses within the U.S have addressed the issue. The few that have, have gone as far as having their employees attend sexual harassment seminars and have set policies on the same. However, most of these policies are yet to be reinforced. Sexual harassment is on the rise in firms based in the U.S with victims opting to yield to these sexual advances other than to report the cases and having little to no action taken in this regard. Consequences of development of a law suit involving sexual harassment in a firm are dire. Such lawsuits apart from being expensive, may cause a decrease in employee morale, may result in decreased productivity or damage the company name. It is for this reason that the human resources department has been given the responsibility ensuring that no such cases reach the courts (Freedman 209-10). This department has been accorded the powers to deal with cases of sexual harassment as is stipulated in the company’s sexual harassment policy.
When an officer in the human resources department comes across a complaint, there are some factors they must bear in mind. First is that as earlier stated, the harasser’s sex and sexual orientation are never taken into account while deciding the validity of a case involving sexual harassment. This is to say that sexual harassment should not be taken to mean that the harasser is of the opposite sex or of heterosexual orientation. Secondly, any person within the employee’s working environment can be the harasser. Be they superiors, peers or individuals of lower rank. The victim of an act of sexual harassment is by definition anyone that is affected by the sexual harassment (Tomer et al 65). It may be the person towards whom it is directed or even a person observing. An example may be an employee that feels a supervisor that is engaged in a sexual relationship with an officer, another officer can claim sexual harassment if they feel that the supervisor is favoring the other officer. The officer receiving the complaint should advice the complainant to tell the person sexually harassing them to stop or to clearly say no. This may be communicated either in writing or orally. If in writing, the communication should include: a description of the act. This includes date, time and specific action, a description of the complainant’s feelings towards the action and a request that the behavior cease. The officer must also remember that sexual harassment can occur and the victim may be unable to demonstrate any negative effect of the same on their work. Such effects would include transfers and demotions. Employees should know that if faced with a case of sexual harassment, they should use the procedures outlined in the company’s sexual harassment policy and that that an investigation must be carried out as per the handbook. The burden of performing the investigation is on the employer through the department of human resources.
Sexual harassment has had massive ramifications to multiple parties over the years, mostly to the victims. If not addressed at the workplace, the sexual advances may be even directed outside the workplace. Cases of people killing those that do not respond to their sexual advances are not uncommon (Toomer et al 231). If the employer would have taken action against the person in good time asserting their stand on sexual harassment, such occurrences may have been avoided. Other cases involve rape. If cases of sexual harassment are not handled the actions involved may evolve from acts of sexual advances to actual rape.
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