Handsy boss harassing teen summer worker
Image: Pexels

Dear Counsellor,

I'm in a little dilemma. My mother works at a company and she got me a summer job at her workplace, and I started even before my exams ended in June. I had three exams remaining when I started, and my supervisor would grant me the time to go sit them, and one time even dropped me at school himself for an afternoon exam, because I was running late. I'm now finished with school and concentrating on work, but this man won't leave me alone. At first I'd smile when he made comments, but that was just out of embarrassment, because I find him gross. He's also married, and I'm just 18. I haven't said anything to my mother or to anyone else, because I don't want drama and I need the money to help out with upper sixth. But this man gets grosser by the day, and is really making me uncomfortable. He's also loved by everyone and very respected, so I doubt that if I complain it would make a difference. What can I do? I'm just trying to survive until August, and I really would like to continue working with the company after I finish school completely.

I am sorry you've experienced that. I am glad you've joined in on The Couch for advice. I commend you for being busy furthering your education and for being willing to take on a summer job to better yourself. Jamaica certainly needs progressive young people like yourself to succeed.

What you have described here is sexual harassment being perpetrated by that person against you. The Government of Jamaica has recently taken a firm stance against sexual harassment. It is a serious issue that has apparently affected one in every four Jamaican women.

You've said that you "need the money" and that you "don't want drama" — that's exactly how harassers become confident in committing sexual harassment. Because of the needs and fears of their targets, they count on your need and fear in order to keep you quiet and cooperative. And then they count on the shame felt once you give in to their pressure tactics. They play on need, fear and the shame to keep their prey captive. Don't play this game!

Here's my advice to you:

Speak to your mother. Inform her of what has happened. She has a right to know and she should be given the opportunity to determine how to respond. It is her work space also, and she brought you there. Who knows what else this person might be doing to others?

Consider reporting it. According to attorney-at-law Mackeda Bramwell, what he's doing is in fact illegal. You could write a report of the situation to whoever initially hired you (keep a copy of the dated letter for yourself). If after writing nothing is done about it, you can go to the police. You can speak to a lawyer for further assistance.

Whatever happens, deal with it. Don't cower. Wherever this goes, be bold and strong. Secrecy and timidity aren't going to cut it. You have to represent yourself and your rights. You should not be subjected to this at all.

Be assertive. If the gentleman is persisting, let him know that he is sexually harassing you and that you are willing to report it to the office and to the police. Don't smile. Speak firmly and be assertive.

Learn from this. You'll learn that there are manipulative people in this world. Learning to stand up for yourself is important. Never smile with those seeking to abuse you — nip that stuff in the bud! Never let embarrassment make you go easy on inappropriate behaviour. Shut it down decisively the first time.

I pray that you will continue with courage and that you will come through this stronger, having dealt with this predator and ended his stalking.

Get on The Counsellor's Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com.

Christopher Brodber

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login

HOUSE RULES

  1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; email addresses will not be published.
  2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.
  3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.
  4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.
  5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.
  6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.
  7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy