One of the most accessed stories on Yahoo! Japan yesterday was about sexual harassment in the workplace.
Back in 2005, a woman who suffered PTSD after being forced to sit on her boss’ lap at a party was forced to resign by the company when she attempted to return to work following her recovery. Almost a decade has passed since then, and now the woman raises awareness on issues of sexual harassment.
But going by netizens’ responses, many feel that the situation hasn’t changed all that much. For once, commenters on Twitter and Yahoo! Japan seem to be united in their opinion. There were calls for the company’s name to be revealed and for Japan to focus on creating a society that values women’s contribution.
From Sankei Shimbun:
The Surprising Reality Of Sexual Harassment: Woman Forced To Sit On Boss’ Lap During Group Photograph Encouraged To Resign After Taking Sick Leave
A woman who was forced to sit on her male boss’ lap during a commemorative group photograph took sick leave after suffering a nervous breakdown from the shock. Following her medical treatment, the company did not accept her request to return to work: in fact, she was asked to resign. The woman, from Chiba City who had been forced to resign from a major office machinery supplier spoke vividly about the harm she had suffered due to sexual harassment at the company, where she had experienced humiliation in front of a number of her colleagues. The woman pleaded for the nation and its business owners to recognize clearly the grave nature of the crime of sexual harassment. (Kinoshita Megumi)
■ Let’s Make Sure You Can’t Escape…Woman Had Her Hand Grabbed By Another Male Colleague
“Although it was something that only lasted a few minutes, to me it seemed like an age”
It happened May 2005, at a company party she had organized. When they were about to take a commemorative group photograph, she had been forced to site on the lap of one of her bosses, and another male employee had grabbed her left wrist so that she couldn’t get away. No one around her did anything to stop them. After the photograph, the woman faced obscene comments intended to ridicule her.
A few days later, the woman started to feel unwell, and was no longer able to ride the rush hour train which was full of men wearing suits. She was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). From April 2006, the woman took sick leave from her post. During this time, she was frightened of the company and of her sexual harassers, and there were many days when she couldn’t even bear to go outside.
In 2009, after receiving treatment, the woman recovered, and discussed returning to work before the period of her sick leave expired. When she did so, the company refused to accept her requested, and suggested that on the contrary, she should resign. The woman was left with no choice in the matter, and on the day following the expiration of her period of sick leave, and after more than 25 years at the company, she was forced to hand in her notice. Even though she had only organized the party because the company had ordered her to do so, they also refused to acknowledge that she had suffered work-related harm, claiming that it had not been part of her job.
■ Are You Trying To Besmirch The Company’s Name?
In the woman’s claim for compensation the company acknowledged that she had been sexually harassed, but deemed that she had only suffered minor harm. She had been told by one of her superiors to stop causing trouble, and asked if she was trying to besmirch the company name.
Following this, the woman decided that she should speak out about her own experiences in order to change the ways of the company, since “a company which looks down on women is a company that needs to grow up”. She first began to speak about her experiences at seminars organized by sexual harassment support groups.
In an independent survey commissioned by the Ministry of Welfare and Labor in autumn last year, to which 10,000 working women aged between 25 and 44 responded, it was revealed that just under 30% of them had experienced sexual harassment. Moreover, the survey revealed that over 60% had cried themselves to sleep.
Testifying about her sexual harassment, the woman pleaded: “If the nation and its business owners do not acknowledge the serious nature of the crime of sexual harassment, then as women continue to expand their presence in the workforce, the number of people who suffer will only rise”.