ARE YOU AFRAID TO STAND UP IN THE FACE OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT? THIS MIGHT HELP YOU!

This piece is written from my personal experience…

I know there are many of you out there who have had the same experience as me, no power and silent about it. I’ve always considered myself as a hard-working young woman, strong and never scared of standing up against anything for myself, but today I was horrified, shocked and wanted to keep it to myself. This issue caused me fear but then I wanted to share with you. I have no power and don’t know what’s going to happen after this. Am I going to be judged? Seen as a bad person? Does that sound familiar? I know you might be scared but don’t be.

This incident happened when I was supposed to meet with my “boss to be”. He had promised me a job since last December. I saw an advert online about an online Magazine looking for journalists/bloggers who are based in Pretoria. I phoned the person who was in charge to ask if they still need bloggers and he said they did. He later checked my blog and told me that my blog was impressive and wanted me to join the team. He promised many times that we were going to have a meeting. He eventually arranged the meeting and said we’d go for a glass of wine. I wasn’t that bothered about going for a glass of wine but I didn’t want it to cost me the job, I was so thrilled for such a job offer I accepted it.

He arranged to have a meeting with me on a Wednesday morning. The morning of the meeting, I received a message from him saying that he couldn’t make it at the arranged time and he would phone me back at 11 am to confirm the time. I was already on my way to town by then because we were supposed to be meeting at Krugersdorp. I then got another text saying that he can’t make it at 11am he will only be free at 2pm. Then I said it’s still okay I’ll wait somewhere in the coffee shop until that time comes and I asked if I can help him with anything in the time I’m waiting for him. He then said if I agree with his time (2pm) then it means I’m not going home and I would have to sleep over at his place to have more time to discuss things and have some fun, because he was interested in me, he even sent me an emoji blowing a kiss. Lots of questions rose in my head and I asked why I should sleep over when it was a business meeting, I was horrified and besides I have a younger sister I’m living with and there was no way I could leave her on her own for late meetings let alone stay. I told him I’d still meet but wouldn’t be staying over.

Later that day he changed times from 2pm to 5pm and only if I’m willing to sleep over. I was obviously scared that I was going to lose this job but I then thought, this isn’t worth my time and I chose to lose the job. Fortunately, we never met and no one knows what was going to happen if we did.

Another two similar incidents happened when I was still at college, I was an intern at ITV in Sunninghill, Sandton. I met a guy at the train station one night coming from work and he wanted a fashion blogger for his Magazine. I agreed and had a meeting with him in Johannesburg and we agreed on 5% payment on the company’s profit. The first event he wanted me to cover was a fashion show. The show wasn’t going to start until 8pm so he said I’d have to stay over with him. I asked him if he had a spare room or where would I be sleeping, I was shocked when he said that I should share his bed. I obviously said that wasn’t good enough and I never heard from him again.

The other incident happened in my second year at college. I was volunteering at a news web site in Johannesburg. They were training me and it was quite a nice office to work in. I’d go in at weekends because of college during the week. One weekend the boss asked me to work the Monday public holiday. I didn’t think anything of it until he said I should come to his house to work because his wife and kids were away. I was shocked and didn’t go back to work there.

I didn’t know what to expect it was always a shock when it happened and it stopped me taking risks or trying. Why should men who are supposed to be the boss think that this kind of a behavior is acceptable? This kind of behavior must be stopped. No man should take an advantage to young women. #sexual harassment must fall.

I know you’re there, horrified as I am but don’t be afraid to speak out, you’re not alone in this and please bring the story forward. Your name is not necessary going to be on paper. I’m more than happy to put you as ANON…

By: Fortunate Machaba

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