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By Laudy Issa
The Arab Foundation For Freedoms and Equality (AFE) is pushing for policies that protect from sexual harassment in the Lebanese workplace for this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
The WE4L partner, which focuses on the promotion and recognition of sexuality, gender, and bodily rights in the Middle East and North Africa region, launched a video on November 27 to show how harassment takes place at work.
The video, which has now gone viral with over 200,000 views in less than 24 hours, shows Stephanie Atala teaching George Khalaf about the difference between a safe work environment and one with harassment by going through a regular day at the workplace. The two actors, known for starring in a weekly YouTube show by the Beirut-based creative collective Heyoka Media, witness and discuss different scenarios where a female employee could be harassed.
Instances show both co-workers catcalling the female employee when she arrives at the office and her boss sexually harassing her when she stays overtime, while a third reveals how her boss insinuates the need for sexual favors when she asks for a raise.
A 2018 study by AFE established that only 15 percent of companies in Lebanon have policies that protect against sexual harassment in the workplace. The video highlights the repercussions of such harassment and intimidation on both female employees and the company itself.
“But even if you put aside the mental and physical suffering, sexual harassment hinders her career advancement and would probably make her lose an income that could be meant for her family,” Stephanie conversationally explains to George in the video. “And to add to that, the company is losing staff and capabilities that could have been of great use. So everyone loses!”