Feature Article of Friday, 1 December 2006
A GNA feature By Francis Ameyibor
Accra, Dec. 1, GNA - The Domestic Violence Bill currently before Parliament defines sexual harassment as sexual contact without the consent of the person with whom the contact is made, repeatedly making unwanted sexual advances, repeatedly following, pursuing or accosting a person or making persistent, unwelcoming communication with a person. Another definition, according to the Bill, is watching, loitering outside or near a building where the harassed person resides, works, carries on business, studies or happens to be.
Others are repeatedly making telephone calls or inducing a third person to make telephone calls to the harassed person, whether or not conversation ensues or repeatedly sending, delivering or causing the delivery of letters, telegrams, packages, facsimiles, electronic mail or other messages to the harassed person's residence, school or workplace; or engaging in any other menacing behaviour.
The definition is deficient in scope as it over focuses on mostly feminine stimulus substances and influence to the detriment of masculine stimulants.
The Oxford Dictionary defines "harassment" as "any trouble, worry, or torment, as with debts, repeated questions, or to trouble by repeated raids or attacks."
Sexual harassment on the other hand is interpreted to mean: "An act or way that seems to provoke and intends to stimulate the opposite sex, whether intentionally or otherwise."
For generations, large numbers of ladies have and continue to harass men silently by their provocative dressing; swinging and exposure of their sensitive parts, but men seem powerless to complain. Some women use their sexual power to physically and emotionally abuse, control and harass men, which are mostly not reported. Most victims even fear public ridicule and prefer to continue to suffer silently without complaining.
Adam's sons are powerless to complain about the provocative acts of the Daughters of Eve.
The story of Joseph and Portipher's wife in the Bible is a classical example of women sexually raiding poor men. Naturally, men are stimulated by sight, while women, by touch. Frankly, any part of a lady's body from the knee upwards, when used in a certain manner or exposed stimulates or can "provoke" a man. A lady who wears a mini skirt or a bikini and exposes her sensitive parts in secluded places is a real tormentor of men. The mental battle that the man goes through is between him and his God. Is this not sexual harassment?
Some ladies interviewed agree that most ladies, who wear skimpy provocative dresses, do it intentionally. It is normally aimed at a target personality.
According to the ladies, one's target determines what, where and how to expose stressing "even how to pose in front of a target is a powerful weapon to confuse, harass and intimidate a man into submission".
This position was recently confirmed during a visit to some night clubs in Accra where GNA observed that ladies wore provocative dresses. Some of the ladies told the GNA: "We dress to fit the occasion. Some of us are here to entertain and be entertained."
Others on purely business terms said: "There is no other way to attract our targets than to appear exotic to push the men to a highly susceptible sexual stimulation point immediately he steals a glance." A Reverend Minister once commented: "The ladies are disturbing us with their dressing."
Other groups of personalities that suffer greatly from female sexual harassment are politicians, lecturers and public figures. Male lecturers in tertiary institutions deserve to be pitied. Picture a lady coming to lecture in an "Apuskeleke" dress. The provocative and fancy dresses some ladies in some of these institutions wear to lectures is nothing but literally to kill the Lecturers. Whether the Lecturer would have his peace of mind to teach effectively is anyone's guess.
When men encounter these "ladies in skimpy provocative" dresses, they do three things almost simultaneously:
First, they read - that is look at them critically. Second, they comprehend what they have seen; and third, they try to interpret according to their own judgement. It may be noted, however, that it has not yet been settled whether interpretation preceded perception or the other way round.
In many countries especially in the developing world, the issue of how a way of life is received and interpreted is at the heart of many debates.
One of the most widely debated is: "Do our ladies' way of dressing cause subsequent anti-social behaviour?" "What motivational role does 'skimpy provocative' dressing play in rape and other related cases?" Another controversial question is what influence does a sexually explicit material have on people? Does it contribute to the breakdown of families, spousal abuse, teenage pregnancy and the overall disintegration of society and traditional values?
In view of the above it may be necessary for Parliament to expand the scope of definition of sexual harassment under the DV Bill to include indecent exposure, and other provocative gestures by both sexes.
1 Dec. 06