Monday, October 23, 2017

Sexual Harassment and Human Rights

In theory, the U.S. has relatively strong federal prohibitions on sexual harassment in workplaces, schools, and government sites with states providing even broader protections from sexual harassment in any public accommodations.  But as recent revelations about Harvey Weinstein indicate -- alongside the public's tolerance of Donald Trump's foul and objectifying words about women -- laws alone are not enough.  Women's own solidarity is a critical component of holding perpetrators of sexual harassment accountable for their discriminatory actions and creating non-discriminatory spaces.

Still, laws can be a basis for solidarity and common understandings of what's wrong and unfair.  UN Women has a useful webpage that sets out the various sources of international law on sexual harassment, including both worldwide and regional instruments that speak to the issue.

In a few short months, the Women's March for Human Rights of 2017 grew from a back-of-the-envelope idea to an international demonstration of women's solidarity.  The #MeToo wave is an outgrowth of this dramatic show of women's strength, and a confirmation that the Women's March changed, at least marginally, both women's own perceptions and the reality of their collective power.

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