Definition and Examples of Human Rights Violation and Harassment

Definition and Examples of Human Rights Violation and Harassment

At ICU, we define human rights violations not only as sexual harassment, but also academic harassment, power harassment and conduct that uses status and position differentials to place others at a disadvantage in their education, research, or work. ICU prohibits all forms of harassment. Human rights violations often occur in structural settings in which a person with power abuses his or her power, status, or authority against a less powerful person to trap him or her into circumstances in which he or she cannot resist: relationships such as faculty-student, superior -subordinate, senior-junior, or a member of a majority and a minority group, etc.

On-campus relationships can be shaped by off-campus interactions. Therefore, off-campus speech and behavior are not exempt from scrutiny.

Even in relatively equal-status and equal-position relationships, human rights violations can, of course, occur. And they can occur in the reverse direction of power as well.

About Sexual Harassment

"Sexual harassment" is : "any unwanted speech or action based on a sexual interest or desire and conducted in the context of a power relationship."

The determination of whether an utterance or act was "unwanted" is based not on the actor's judgment, but on that of the receiver of the act or utterance. "That was not my intention" is an excuse that, in principle, will not be accepted. It is necessary to develop the ability to calibrate whether one is imposing one's thoughts and feelings on others and what others are thinking or experiencing.

"Based on a sexual interest or desire" includes discriminatory attitudes toward sexual minorities. The imposition of "gender roles" is also sexual harassment. Let us rethink the fixed attitudes we so easily assume, like "she is a woman, after all" or "he isn't manly."

About Academic Harassment

"Academic harassment" refers to "the use of power to harass in academic and research situations."

In efforts to deal with sexual harassment, we have become cognizant that there are serious offenses other than sexual speech and conduct which occur in research and educational settings-in the carrying out of research and in teaching and guidance. This is academic harassment, and it includes denying a student a research topic, refusing to give guidance to students, interfering in research activities, assigning grades unequally, withholding important information, spreading negative and damaging rumors, giving loud reprimand for missed details, and any other actions that constitute an infringement of the right to receive education, the right to conduct education and research, or the right to work. These actions occur in contexts in which the one who is guiding abuses his or her power over the one being guided, and in power relationships between and among research collaborators.

When someone is robbed of the chance to live up to their full potential, that person is unable to produce the results intended, evaluations of their capabilities decline, and it is easy for others to misinterpret this as a fault in that person. And in many cases, the person being harassed becomes isolated.

Many cases of academic harassment are abetted by complicit subordinates and colleagues who either cooperate or keep their silence while those with considerable authority are known to be abusing their power. One could even say that academic harassment could not exist without these "passive collaborators." When harassment ensues, people choose not to become "passive collaborators."

Other Sorts of Human Rights Violations

Aside from the issues mentioned above, we must watch out for other forms of Human Rights Violations, such as power harassment in the working environment (the use of status and authority to increase subordinates' workloads, or the withholding of information, etc.). Power is granted for the institutional purposes of carrying out work responsibilities, and it is not granted in order to use one's status and authority to treat others any way one pleases. Even though there are status and authority differentials, we need the self-awareness to mutually view each other as equals. As those with higher statuses and positions tend to become insensitive to power relationships, they must be especially careful with this issue.