Sexual jokes, offenses, verbal assaults: “I was exhausted, I quit”


«Beautiful pussy, did you have sex last night?», Up to declarations, jokes, worse appellations when it turned bad, always of a sexual nature. So the owner of Francesca, invented name, welcomed her to the company every morning, amid the laughter of colleagues who were amused or too fearful to contradict him. “He has an aggressive character and the others were intimidated by him. Despite everything, however, the owner had faith in me and gave me responsibilities. I was hired with a permanent contract, so at the beginning I tried to resist ». But the situation soon became unsustainable.

Francesca came to the office every day hoping that the owner was in a good mood to have to endure, at least, a minor load of mockery. Eventually, exhausted, she stopped smiling at the jokes.

“From that moment on, the situation got worse. He started telling colleagues that we were having sex, especially oral, and that this was the reason for my good contract. I asked him to stop lying and he started filling me with work out of proportion. I no longer had the right to holidays and permits and when, on the other hand, he granted them to me, at the last minute he withdrew the authorization ».

Eventually Francesca called a lawyer and negotiated for the dismissal. She says she wasn’t the only one to leave the company that year “four of us fired and a colleague of mine got even worse: she was continually offended by her appearance until she had a nervous breakdown and he resigned ».

According to a research carried out on the occasion of November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, from WeWorld, an organization that defends the rights of women and children, and Ipsos, almost 70% of female workers experienced at least one discrimination in the workplace. 3 out of 10 have had to answer questions about family and children during the selection interview and 2 out of 10 have suffered offenses or jokes related to their gender.

«All harassment is a form of violence that leads to different structures of suffering. Enhanced by the fact that in so many cases women do not have the opportunity to oppose. Consequences can manifest themselves either physically or psychologically, or both. Gastrointestinal disorders, headaches, or states of anxiety, loss of confidence, symptoms of depression, create a chain of negative effects on the person “, explains Patrizia Romito, psychologist, co-author of” Sexual harassment. Recognize them, fight them, prevent them “.

If the woman cannot access a valid support network, receive help, confide in, talk about it and find solidarity in her colleagues, if above all the harassment she suffers does not cease, its effects are added to the violence of the action. «If all my attention is focused on how to avoid or bear the harassing attitude – continues Romito – it will certainly decrease the concentration that I can have during work. Even harassment that is considered as trivial as jokes, jokes and comments can have negative consequences on the well-being of individuals».

Violence and harassment at work affect the psychological, physical and sexual health of those affected and their family and social environment. They are incompatible with respect for fundamental human rights and also have a negative impact on reputation and productivity. So it is written in the Convention on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, drawn up by the ILO (International Labor Organization) in 2019 and which Italy also ratified at the end of last October. The state and employers they have, so, the obligation to promote actions to prevent and combat violence, creating healthy environments and a culture of work.


Source: L'Espresso – News, inchieste e approfondimenti Espresso by espresso.repubblica.it.

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