Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of human rights-based discrimination (on the basis of sex) that is prohibited under the Human Rights Code. UFV’s Harassment Prevention Policy views sexual harassment as distinct from other forms of harassment:

Sexual harassment has some characteristics distinct from other forms of harassment. It is not mutual flirtation or a consensual relationship. It should be recognized, however, that in certain instances where a power imbalance exists (i.e., in the case of relationships between supervisors and subordinates, or faculty and students), a sexual relationship could be considered as sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual attention, sexual solicitation, or sexually oriented remarks. It includes unwanted behaviour such as touching, suggestive or demeaning remarks, jokes or other types of verbal abuse of a sexual or sexist nature directed at an individual or group; and graphic or suggestive comments about an individual’s appearance, sex or sexual orientation, made by a person who knows or ought reasonably to know that such attention, solicitation or behaviour is unwanted and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, when:

a. submission to such conduct is made either implicitly or explicitly a term or condition of employment or of educational progress

b. submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting that employee or student; or

c. such conduct has the effect or purpose of unreasonably interfering with an employee’s work performance or a student’s academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or educational environment.

Examples of Sexual Harassment

  • Making sexualized comments about a person’s appearance
  • Producing sexualized sounds, e.g., whistling at someone
  • Redirecting conversations to sexualized topics or fantasies
  • Telling sexualized jokes or stories about oneself or another
  • Asking questions about an individual’s fantasy or sexual life
  • Telling lies or spreading rumours about a person’s sexual life
  • Staring, leering, or looking a person up and down
  • Displaying or distributing sexualized photos, audio, or video
  • Making sexualized gestures or expressions with one's body
  • Unwanted touching of a person’s hair, face, or body
  • Touching oneself sexually in the presence of another person

Criminal Harassment

Under Section 264. (1) of the Criminal Code of Canada, criminal harassment is illegal. More commonly known as stalking, criminal harassment is unwelcome behaviour to the recipient, including repeatedly following, communicating with, or watching over a person’s home or work location. The harasser may be known or unknown to the recipient, but is sometimes a former partner. Both men and women may engage in or experience stalking behaviour.

Because criminal harassment falls under the jurisdiction of the Criminal Code of Canada, its occurrence should immediately be reported to local police authorities.

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