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LETTER: Our bodies are our own

Sexual Harras
Sexual Harras

I am observing the uproar about sexual harassment being reported in the press and on tv and radio.

I am a victim of serious sexual assaults and bullying by men who were senior to me.

Acquaintances who do not know this about me, have disparaged the brave women who have come forward. One man said to me two weeks ago, “I have never been sexually harassed. I am missing out! When is it my turn!’ and everyone laughed.

I turned to him and said “I have been sexually harassed and it is horrible and deeply upsetting and was all about power. I don’t find it funny.”. He had the good grace to apologise.

A few weeks before that, a woman I know said that she thought it was all very silly: she said - “When is it going to stop where women are going to report men for a hug or an arm across a shoulder and honestly, any woman can just tell them to stop?”. I paused and looked at her. I said quietly that I felt she was very privileged to not have experienced something so awful as sexual harassment and sexual assault. I told her that I wished I had been so privileged. I explained that my sexual harassment was not about someone touching my knee or arm, but about being grabbed by the breasts, being assaulted in my private areas, being kissed against my will. I thought that everyone has a right not to be touched like that against their will. I also said that when men are in a position of power and authority over you, it is very difficult to shout out, as one feels confused, in shock, frightened. Also, I was brought up and conditioned as a woman to ‘be polite’ and wish that I could indeed be assertive and say ‘eff off’ when appropriate. Unfortunately I am more likely to blush and look embarrassed. Not my fault.

I am so glad that this topic is becoming more talked about. I feel it is time that we all realise that our bodies are our own bodies and not to be touched without permission. This applies to both men and women.

I would like us all to treat each other with respect and kindness.

Name and address

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