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One of the first jobs I got upon graduation was at the headquarters of one of Singapore’s post-secondary education institutes. Sexual harrassment? Where do I even begin?! I remember at least 2 men at management level being rather vulgar in their behaviour. One of them lecherously ‘checked me out’ from head to toe as I was talking to him in the corridor, on my way to the pantry. There was no mistaking the look as it was deliberate, slow and sleazy! The other actually went all out to proposition me to have an affair with him! It was very difficult liaising with him on common projects because he was such a dirty old man and always managed to slip a filthy suggestion or two somewhere in the conversation.
Then there was the Eastern European colleague who was far less subtle. One evening, while we were having drinks after office hours with a couple of other male colleagues, he commented on my succulent and perky breasts and how he just wanted to sink his teeth right into them – complete with dramatisation and a growl (he was at his seat but snapped his teeth across the table in by direction)!
Another dirty old man who worked at reception suggested rather ‘innocently’ that we go out for lunch at some ‘cosy restaurant’ one day, ‘just you and I’. Mind you, he was what we would call a ‘religious man’, forever reprimanding students to dress decently and behave virtuously!
As a point of information, all of the above men are married and in their 40s or 50s.
The last straw came when I discovered that a colleague of mine was actually molesting some of my male students! I complained to my female manager, who said unless the students themselves complained, nothing could be done. The students were too afraid, of course, and I felt absolutely helpless. I pursued the matter and spoke to my department director as well, after sending him an email that such a thing was taking place. He said that they would look into it – my colleague was amicably verbally warned, and there was no investigation.
I quit! I was in my early twenties, had no idea what to do in the face of sexual harrassment and simply wondered if I was just much prettier and sexier than I thought and had to ‘watch out for that’ at work.
The last I heard, perpetrator still works there.
Home-maker, Mother of 2
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