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Watchdog’s guidelines on sexual harassment

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Published : 2011-01-17 18:45
Updated : 2011-01-17 18:45

Minor but pervasive conduct of a sexual nature can be seen as sexual harassment, the state human rights watchdog said in a guidebook released Monday.

The guidebook, by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, illustrates scenarios where offensive verbal, physical and visual conduct constituted sexual harassment, and advises on how to deal with such situations.

The watchdog has distributed 12,000 copies of the 13-page guidebook to businesses, companies, women’s groups, universities, high schools and other educational facilities, hoping to educate men and women about sexual harassment in and out of the workplace.

According to the book, if a sexual joke is not directed at anyone in particular, but the environment makes someone uncomfortable, then it could be considered sexual harassment.

Even a single instance of sexually offensive conduct or causing any repercussions for someone rejecting a sexual invitation can be deemed sexual harassment, regardless of the gender of those involved.

The guide informs readers that offensive conduct during office parties, business trips and even conversations with a superior after work, can also constitute sexual harassment.

The guidebook includes a step by step guide on what to do if you are offended by another person’s sexual conduct.

“It is important to express that the aggressor’s behavior is offensive,” said a commission official.

“If it is difficult to express this during the situation, one should write a letter to the aggressor requesting to stop the behavior, and it is a good idea to keep all e-mails, text messages and other material as evidence.”

By Robert Lee (rjmlee@heraldcorp.com)