I was shocked when only one week ago I came upon a social media post by a young Cambodian woman detailing how she and her friend were harassed by two men at the annual Kizuna Festival at Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Centre.
Here is a part of what she wrote:
“There are two guys trying to touch me and my friends, I was watching the performance and he just came close behind me trying to touch me with his disgusting hand poking my skirt and trying to go under my skirt, I felt so disgusted, revolted, and shocked. My friends saw what’s going on she held my hip and hugged me so he could notice and move. He went somewhere else, I think he did the same to other women too. Then he came back to the place I was standing with my friends. Guess what? He did it to my friends too.”
As I was reading this, I felt extremely disgusted. I am not related to her, but what if I were? I have a mother, a younger sister, a wife and a daughter. How would I feel if this happened to any of them? Obviously, it would be similar to how those girl’s parents, siblings and friends are feeling right now – anger and despair.
The girl who posted on Facebook even blamed herself for wearing a skirt to the event, but I have to say that she was wrong. Whatever a woman or girl is wearing or wherever she is, no one has the right or power to violate her dignity and comfort zone. Those who break that right must be prohibited from walking away freely.
Sexual harassment is defined as any kind of unwanted activity directed to a person that is sexually offensive in nature. Its occurrence could be the result of many factors, from deviant sexual preferences to cognitive and attitudinal biases. However, whatever the cause is or in whatever form it is displayed, sexual harassment is a serious offence and with credible evidence and witnesses punishable under the Kingdom’s law.
Unfortunately, many victims of sexual harassment choose to stay silent. They do not expose the harassment because they are typically too shy or do not want to draw attention to themselves. It is also possible that they are blaming themselves for wearing sexy clothes or afraid of retribution. It is even worse when people around them, despite not being the perpetrators, choose to “mind their own business” and ignore the incident.
Such cases do not only happen in Cambodia. For example in the US, 300 female gymnasts, many of whom were underage, were found to be sexually abused by a man named Larry Nassara. He was their doctor and an osteopathic physician at Michigan State University where the women and girls studied, this abuse went on for years until he was exposed by a single victim in 2017.
The point is that ignoring sexual harassment, either in public or private, will only motivate the abusers to find more people to abuse. In simple words, if it is you today, it could be someone else tomorrow. Likewise, if you do not pay any heed when you notice someone else being assaulted, you will never know whether someone you or someone you love will be the next victim.
To make things worse, taking no notice of sexual harassment can also cause a misunderstanding that the victims are enjoying it. This may be caused by today’s pornographic content, such as “chikan,” a sexual harassment fantasy displayed in Japanese porn videos. Hence, it is vitally important to distinguish staging and reality because no one either male or female, with a stable mind, finds being touched or groped by a stranger enjoyable.
So how should someone fight back? The answer is straight forward, look the abuser in the eyes and tell them to stop or face the consequences. You must be brave and tell them that what they are doing is wicked and immoral. You can embarrass them by drawing public attention to them and do not be shy of asking people around you for help. It may also be good to learn some form of self-protection.
In summary, anyone can be a hero by interfering and helping those who are being harassed. Remember that when you help a victim, you are also protecting your family and friends.
To all the perverts reading this, you need to stop committing your crimes because together, we are going to fight against you.