“What will never be a pat on the ass”: those who do not take harassment of women at work seriously


There are the stories, hard and raw. And the comments. Sometimes revealing how ingrained clichés are. “Dying inside from a pat on the butt. I missed it », writes a user on social media. Below the post with the story of a 21-year-old girl describing how she felt after being harassed by her manager, in front of the eyes of those taking the class in the pool. Fabiola has never talked about what happened in order not to invalidate her internship and lose the credits she needed to graduate. “Sport is one of the professional fields in which women are most reluctant to report violence”, explains Daniela Simonetti, president of the Il Cavallo Rosa / ChangeTheGame organization, committed to protecting female athletes and athletes from sexual, emotional and physical violence and abuse. . “The rules are old, the language crystallized, there are conspiratorial behaviors that place the complainant and denounced on the same level, so many are afraid to tell, for fear of being forced to interrupt their careers”. This is especially true for athletes but also for operators in the sector. The story of Fabiola is one of the many that have come to #lavoromoloesto, the campaign that L’Espresso carries out with CGIL Piedmont and Umbria, launched on the occasion of the international day for the elimination of violence against women, last 25 November.

“Should he have reported? If she had reported what would have happened? “Writes another user about Lara, an assistant chair in a dental office, who, the day after escaping from her boss who, with her pants down, asked her to have sex at the end of shift, he found another ready to take his place at work. Lara has never reported and feels guilty for this, above all because she assumes that what happened to her could also have happened to other workers in the same firm. According to an international research carried out on a sample of over 60,000 workers, coordinated by the Department of Psychology of the Sapienza University of Rome, those in precarious employment are more exposed to unwanted sexual behavior and harassment than colleagues who have a stable job. . Women report being subjected to sexual harassment three times as often as men. In particular, the risk of violence increases when precarious work is associated with the unpredictability of schedules and the fact that workers have to carry out several tasks at the same time.

“Since when did hot comments about the opposite sex in a private chat become a crime?” Stop this politically correct. We can’t take it anymore! », Comments a user to enter the debate that opened on the web after the publication of the stories of Cristina and Angelica, employed in two large companies, who said they felt treated like objects in the workplace, because women. Every time the managers from Rome and Milan came to visit Angelica, the superiors asked to dress appropriately, that is, to put on a miniskirt. When the contract expired, she changed jobs.

Cristina, on the other hand, every time she gets up from her desk, has to endure giggles, murmurs, jokes of a sexual nature. A constant chatter behind her that makes her feel inadequate and makes the hours heavy. One day she learned that colleagues and superiors, in their free moments at work, organize real contests: “Who has the most beautiful buttocks? Who has the biggest breasts?” Who turns on your sexual energy the most? ». A points ranking in which women become things to be evaluated aseptically, secretly, to have a laugh and break the routine. Not clearly circumscribed episodes of physical violence but harassment that, as it is written in Convention number 190 of the ILO, the international labor organization, are unacceptable practices and behaviors, but also the threat to carry them out, which can involve physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm, and include violence and gender harassment.

The Convention dates back to 2019. At the end of last October, Italy concluded the ratification process, the second country in Europe after Greece. As Raffaele Fabozzi, professor of Labor Law at Luiss University explains, “our legal system has certainly evolved but there is no specific law on harassment in the workplace. The Convention on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work constitutes a fundamental step in the process of protecting workers, from an increasingly inclusive and gender-neutral perspective. With its ratification, Italy has assumed the obligation to issue a series of rules aimed at preventing and sanctioning various forms of harassment in the workplace, ensuring full protection of the person’s physical, psychological, sexual and economic integrity. . It is desirable that the contents of the Convention be concretely implemented as soon as possible “.

Meanwhile, Italy remains a difficult country for women who want to work. It is one of the worst in Europe for female employment, about half of women working (the other half not). Female workers often perform jobs for which a lower educational qualification than their own would be sufficient, are underrepresented in top positions, receive lower salaries and pensions than men, and are not only more likely to be harassed, but also to be forced to leave the occupation to avoid them. According to Istat, one million and 404 thousand women have suffered physical assaults or sexual blackmail in the workplace during their life. According to a survey carried out by WeWorld, a non-profit organization that fights to guarantee the rights of the most vulnerable communities, in collaboration with Ipsos, 66 percent of the interviewees said they had suffered at least one harassing behavior (not just physical) in the company, office , factory. Two out of ten women have received jokes or insults related to their gender, one in four insistent requests about their personal relationships. Nearly three out of ten female workers, 27 percent, say they have received questions about their willingness to marry or have children during an interview for a new job.

Discrimination against women who have chosen to become mothers is also at the center of the many stories that have come to #lavoromolesto, an anonymous reporting space designed with the aim of giving a voice to those who suffer violence in the workplace. Maria was asked to hide the joy and the growing belly, when she learned she was pregnant, so as not to make the bosses nervous before the time, Anna was fired upon returning from maternity, D. demansionata. Behaviors that testify how the labor market is pervaded by gender stereotypes and expectations that influence the participation and career of women, legacies of the patriarchal system.

“Violence against women is not an emergency but a structural problem”. Thus Marco Chiesara, president of WeWorld, commented on the results of the survey which also shows how, in some cases, the cultural tools necessary to recognize harassment are lacking, both for the abused and for the abusers.

The testimonies that many workers are sending to #lavoromolesto and the reactions of some readers to their stories are the consequences of the aftermath of a male-dominated society that still resists today. But that is losing strength. In fact, most of the discussions that followed the publication of the complaints (anonymous, with fictional names), as well as the desire of many women to tell stories, move in a different direction. The desire to break the silence and upset the habits according to which making jokes with a sexual background to a colleague is just a goliardic way to attract her attention, commenting on private parts in public is like paying her a compliment.

Behaviors that, among the worst cases, lead the man to believe that the woman is dependent on his will, flattered if dragged into physical and sexual relationships for which you have never shown the slightest interest. Thanks to the strength of many who have decided to share their experiences, the #lavoromolesto campaign is trying to achieve the goal for which it was conceived: contributing to the formation of a different normality in which the woman is no longer a victim but the spokesperson of a aware and inclusive society.


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

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