“I WAS HA­RASSED BY TWO DIF­FER­ENT EM­PLOY­ERS!”

ONE WO­MAN SPEAKS UP ABOUT HER TWO TRAU­MA­TIS­ING JOB EN­COUN­TERS.

Herworld (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS -

What to do if you find your­self in the same sit­u­a­tion.

“With the tough eco­nomic cli­mate and com­pet­i­tive job mar­ket, I couldn’t risk turn­ing down any op­por­tu­ni­ties that came my way. So, when I wrapped up my SPM ex­am­i­na­tions in 2005, I took up a po­si­tion as a fac­tory op­er­a­tor near my home in Kedah. Ini­tially, it was an eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and I was ex­cited to fi­nally earn my own in­come –as well as work along­side two very good friends. Plus, I was thank­ful that it would en­able me to help my par­ents who, at the time, were still putting my two younger sib­lings through school.

MO­LESTED ON THE JOB

De­spite hav­ing to work night shifts, I wasn’t too both­ered by it un­til one night when the first sign of trou­ble came in the form of a male tech­ni­cian, Amar*. He had earned quite a rep­u­ta­tion for him­self amongst the fe­male em­ploy­ees for fre­quently ha­rass­ing them. How­ever, no­body had ever dared make an of­fi­cial re­port to the higher-ups.

On that fate­ful night, both of my friends weren’t work­ing. While op­er­at­ing a ma­chine, I heard him whis­per my name from be­hind. De­cid­ing not to pay any heed to him, I con­tin­ued with my work un­til I felt him em­brace my waist as he tried to push his body against mine. Shocked and en­raged, I screamed, stepped on his foot, and el­bowed him in the stom­ach. This alarmed him and he fled back to his work sta­tion.

JUS­TICE SERVED

Even though I was a new­comer, I was adamant in re­port­ing this in­ci­dent to the man­ager, who called Amar up for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Nat­u­rally, he de­nied ev­ery­thing but I was lucky that my man­ager in­sisted on check­ing the hid­den cam­eras near the ma­chines, which led to the truth.

Once I came for­ward, it set off a chain re­ac­tion as the other fe­male work­ers found the courage to do so as well. Not long af­ter, Amar was fired and ar­rested by the po­lice, while I stopped work­ing at the fac­tory when I got an of­fer to fur­ther my stud­ies.

A CHANGE IN EN­VI­RON­MENT

Once I had com­pleted my course in ho­tel man­age­ment, I found love and even­tu­ally mar­ried a man who holds a se­nior rank in my in­dus­try. An­other rea­son to cel­e­brate came in the form of a job op­por­tu­nity, as an as­sis­tant house­keeper, in a renowned ho­tel in Pa­hang. How­ever, upon tak­ing the job, I was a lit­tle shocked at how chummy and touchy the man­ager, Khairul*, was with an­other fe­male em­ployee – lead­ing me to as­sume that she was his girl­friend. To steer free of trou­ble, I’d of­ten fin­ish my house­keep­ing du­ties be­fore the ho­tel’s check-in time and would keep to my­self – hardly mix­ing with other col­leagues save for Bainun*, who was older than me.

Bainun did share with me that the ho­tel’s em­ploy­ees of­ten didn’t ob­serve bound­aries when it came to min­gling. Some of the men and women were even liv­ing un­der the same roof. Then, one day, Bainun and I were about to switch off the tele­vi­sion that had been left on in a room when Khairul barged in and be­rated us for slack­ing on the job. He in­sin­u­ated that we had been watch­ing tele­vi­sion, when in fact, we were do­ing ev­ery­thing by the book. Up­set by his ac­cu­sa­tions, I spoke up and

com­mented on his in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour around fe­male em­ploy­ees dur­ing work­ing hours. Stunned into si­lence, he left in a rage.

AN UN­JUST SAB­O­TAGE

A week af­ter the in­ci­dent, I was in­formed by man­age­ment that they had de­cided not to hire me af­ter my pro­ba­tion pe­riod. I was told to ei­ther hand in my res­ig­na­tion let­ter or be fired. Con­vinced it was Khairul’s back­stab­bing that had led to this de­ci­sion, I tried to de­fend my­self by ar­gu­ing that I had never once been late to work or com­mit­ted mis­takes.

When I re­turned home that night, I di­vulged ev­ery­thing to my hus­band, who lis­tened in shock and im­me­di­ately brought me to an in­dus­trial re­la­tions of­fi­cer. Af­ter shar­ing my story, the of­fi­cer con­vinced me that I needn’t worry and to at­tend work as usual – this wasn’t the first time it had hap­pened and the per­pe­tra­tor was none other than the same per­son.

Sub­se­quently, the man­age­ment team was warned by higher-ups to stop abus­ing their power. I haven’t had any other hic­cups since, with the per­pe­tra­tors in ques­tion go­ing out of their way to avoid me. Af­ter a year of work­ing at the ho­tel, I de­cided to stop due to a per­sonal tragedy: my sec­ond child passed away due to a hole in the heart.

I sin­cerely urge ev­ery wo­man to read up on labour laws and to find the courage to speak up if you’re be­ing ha­rassed, whether sex­u­ally or men­tally. Not only will this help you as­sert your­self to avoid be­ing taken ad­van­tage of by your em­ployer, you’ll also know your le­gal rights as an em­ployee.”

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