Incidences of Sexual Harassment: Cases from Nortern Cyprus

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Sexual harassment is not a new phenomenon. It has probably existed as long as both sexes have been in existence. Sexual harassment is harassment or unwelcome attention of a sexual nature. It includes a variety of behaviors, including mild transgressions and annoyances to serious abuses, which also involves forced sexual activity (Boland, 2002). Males as harassers and females as victims are the most common types of sexual harassment (O’Donohue et al, 1998). Research on sexual harassment usually falls into two categories: (1) investigating the dimensions of sexual harassment, and (2) investigating the factors that influence an individual’s perception of sexual harassment (Tata, 1993, cited in LaRocca, 1999). These factors include severity of the behavior, context in which the behavior occurs i.e., power differentials, and incidental attributes of the persons involved i.e., physical attractiveness.

Rubin and Borges (cited in LaRocca, 1999) found that about 70 % of the women they surveyed reported some form of sexual harassment while attending classes at a university, and that majority of these sexual harassment incidents went unreported. Sexual harassment has been acknowledged to be a widespread and recurring problem in employment as well as educational settings (LaRocca, 1999). Sexual harassment in schools is recognized as a public health problem detrimental to students’ psychosomatic health (Gadin, 2002, cited in Witkowski, 2005). Awareness of harassment in an organization gives rise to psychological distress among individuals who have not been directly victimized (Schneider, 2001, cited in Witkowska, 2005). Studies have usually examined harassment and abuse in isolation rather than in the context of the total academic experience (Carr et al, 2006).

Financial loss is a major consequence of sexual harassment to organizations (Worsfold and McCann, 2000), and it is more expensive to ignore the problem of sexual harassment than to provide training to the employees and employers, or students as the case may be. Sexual harassment has negative repercussions on the individual, the organization, and the community in general (O’Donohue, Downs, and Yeater, 1998). Headaches, backaches, nausea, weight loss or gain, sleep disturbance, neck pain, tiredness and psychological reactions, such as depression, anxiety, fear, anger, shame, guilt, helplessness, isolation, lowered self-esteem, lowered self-confidence, and nervousness are common for both working women and female college students who fall prey to sexual harassment (American Association of University Women, 2002). College students are known to have forfeited work, research, education comfort and even future career, due to sexual harassment (American Association of University Women, 2002). Thacker (1996), further states that formal education is an important factor in an individual’s career and personal development, and so stunting or obstructing a person’s educational accomplishment can have severe consequences.

Formerly, sexual harassment has been seen largely as an instance of regular males’ sex pursuit of women in the workplace or classroom. However, researchers have begun to turn from studying sexual harassment as a problem between individuals, to a problem of organizational climate ( Thus, this study hopes to shed light on the nature of the organizational climate of E.M.U. This is because studying the perception of students on their understanding of what construes sexual behavior will provide an avenue for E.M.U to create and implement sexual harassment policies that will provide a sexual harassment-free studying environment for students. It also creates a foundation for further research. Schools may be considered as workplaces for students, just as they are for adult employees (Witkowska and Menckel, 2005). The school is an arena for students’ first contact with working life, and a place where...
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