Sexual Abuse And The Workplace In Philippines

In this age of emerging woman power, it is sad that many women are still trapped in old values making them prey to victimization.

A lady whom I shall call Delia consulted me, in tears, because she was unjustly forced to resign from her employment. At first she pinned the blame on her co-employees whom she claims destroyed her good name to the bosses.

When I asked why they would do that, all she could say was that she could not understand it herself. When I probed why she resigned for what seemed like petty office intrigues, she said her immediate superior believed the others more and suggested that she resign.

In all of the thirty minutes or so where she kept on ranting about the emotional pain she suffered I still could not make heads or tails out of her story. Nothing made sense.

She said she was an outstanding employee. Her personality projected a meek and docile young woman who is not exactly the normal fare of intrigues. I could not for the life of me imagine why she would be so hated by almost all her co-employees and be driven into resigning by her own immediate superior. I frankly told her that she did not seem to have a cause to file any legal suit against anyone unless she could present witnesses that she was maliciously defamed by her co-employees.

A break came into what seemed a non-case for me when her companion prodded her to tell me about the relationship she used to have with her boss. She tried to brush off the idea that what she was going through had anything to do with her former intimate relationship with her boss. With care and her permission, I asked her friend to tell me what she knew about Delia's intimacy with her boss. And this is the story.

Her boss had always shown special attention to Delia by giving her plum assignments that allowed her to earn more than the others. He also promised her that soon she would be promoted to a higher position with much more attractive perks. The catch? He often asked her to stay after office hours and would ask her to go to his office. At this, Delia broke down. I then encouraged her to narrate what her boss did to her in those after-office trysts. She said she was shocked the first time because immediately upon her entering his room, he embraced her, mashed her breasts and took her clothes off. She was stunned but while he was doing lewd things on her he kept on assuring her he loved her and he would be the wings to make her career fly. She gave in and promised not to say a word to anyone about this as he had requested. The trysts became more frequent and lurid. She said he even had a video tape rolling in one of their sexual encounters. By then, however, she was already madly in love with her boss and nothing mattered anymore to her, even the rolling tape.

I then asked her if there was an indication her officemates knew about her affair with the boss. Reluctantly she admitted that one of the things being thrown against her that led to her resignation was exactly this. What she could not take, she said, was why her boss-her lover-was among those who pressured her into resigning. I suggested to her that perhaps he was feeling the heat too much and became afraid that top management would get wind of it and fire him.

Perhaps, I said, he did not love you as much as he professed and valued his job more.

Delia could not accept this proposition. She kept insisting that he loved her but still had no explanation why he dropped her suddenly without a reason. Between sobs, she ranted that her boss even wrote a notice to the security guards of their building barring her entrance. When I suggested that she had been sexually abused and had a clear case against her boss she became more distraught. She said she could not file a case because she cannot let her parents know. The scandal would destroy her future especially because he had a video footage of one of their trysts. Her friend had one more valuable input to make. This was not the first time that this guy was linked to a female subordinate. In all the previous times, the female employees were forced to leave, much the same way she was driven out. Delia left my office without making a decision to take to task her boss and lover in a legal suit.

Delia had difficulty accepting she was victimized. She insisted it was mutual love. But she gave herself away when she said that although she had reservations about allowing him to carry out his lust, especially in their first few sexual encounters, she was afraid of losing her job and was looking forward to being promoted to a higher post.

Under the law known as the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, there is sexual harassment when an employer, manager or supervisor requests or demands sexual favor from a person he has moral ascendancy over. The sexual favor is made as a condition for hiring, re-employment, continued employment or the granting of promotion or favorable compensation. Under this law, Delia's boss could be imprisoned and be made to pay for the moral damages that she suffered. Lucky for him, however, Delia belongs to the school of women who would rather suffer alone than be exposed to shame.

There are a number of laws giving special protection to women because they often find themselves victims of abuse. But unless women stand for their rights, these laws will mean nothing. Real emancipation cannot come from the outside but from within.

It is women's month. What is there to celebrate about if offenders of crimes against women continue to commit their crimes with impunity? More than celebrating, women should embark on educational campaigns to uplift their fellow women who are still trapped in the belief that they are better off in not fighting back.

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