More work to be done in fight against sexual violence

More work to be done in fight against sexual violence

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

One in five Americans and about half of all women have been sexually assaulted in the workplace. 

It is a staggering statistic that has contracted over the years but is still far too high. 

Anita Hill is a pioneer in bringing sexual harassment to the forefront after the Senate dismissed her allegations against now Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991. Now she is a voice for victims across the country and is inspiring a generations of people working to end unwanted sexual advances.

"Before Anita Hill told her story to the nation really, sexual harassment was not spoken of publicly," said Kyle Velte, a visiting professor at Texas Tech's school of Law. "So she brought it to the public eye and permitted us to have a national dialogue about it. We've been having that dialogue for 27 years but with more and more momentum."

That conversation has come a long way but it still has much further to go.

"It's still prevalent and pervasive, sexual harassment in the workplace, and we still haven't as a collective community come to grips with how to deal with it either on a cultural level, about normative expectations, or on a legal level about how we remedy it," Velte said.

She said those cultural and social norms have allowed for a system that marginalizes women.

"It's not about sex, it's about power and power differentials are built in many different levels in the work place for women. One is pay equity, others are kind of promotions and those kind of issues of what kind of roles their allowed to play at work. If they exhibit a characteristic that in men would be considered assertive, they might be seen, called aggressive.If they're too docile they don't get anywhere, if they speak up too much they're seen as aggressive where as the same activity in a man would be seen as assertive and a leadership quality."

As Hill says, everyone has a role to play and the voices of those who seek good outweigh those who wish to do harm but change can only come if the momentum of the current movement is built upon.

"Like she said, it's about collective harms to all of us in society and we have to keep this momentum up and it can't take another 27 years to finish the work that Anita Hill started back in 1991."

If you are experiencing sexual harassment there are options. Support groups such as Voice of Hope have the resources to help. You can also file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


 

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