Sexusl Harrassment, an obstacle in achieving human rights in the work place, by Mª Ángeles Bustamante R.
By Mª Ángeles Bustamante Ruano
Making the world a more just place is a human ambition mainly resting on the vision of universal human rights. The notion of universality entails real and efficient equality between women and men.
Because we all constitute humanity, which however faces a serious problem often overlooked: gender based violence. As long as there are forced marriages, female genital mutilation, sexual assaults, wives murdered by their husbands, women brutally battered by their boyfriends, women experiencing sexual harassment by their superior or a colleague, we cannot talk about universal human rights.
Originally combating sexual harassment in the workplace was more or less limited to the violation of integrity. Integrity is regarded as a framework for the overall human rights, among which the right to privacy, physical and mental immunity, equality and freedom are prominent. The original understanding was improved until it clearly meant a violation of human rights in terms of discrimination on the basis of gender, violence against women. This is utmost important since we shall keep in mind that yet today women’s rights are not always seen as human rights. Gender based violence is not always associated with discrimination on the basis of gender as an environment that causes andupports it (and other forms of violence). Neither is it necessarily considered a scandalous violation ofhuman rights. Thus those violations are too often disregarded and without required corrective measures simply lead to deadlock.