THE first time I heard her speak, I knew she was telling the truth. The domestic worker from Leyte told me about the sexual harassment she experienced while working in the household of a Philippine ambassador.
He was a seasoned diplomat who was highly regarded in his field.
While stationed overseas, this diplomat took advantage of his position to sexually harass his domestic worker, pleading with her to touch him inappropriately. It was not the first case that the Blas F. I know of a domestic worker in the embassy shelter who was invited out by a diplomatic officer.
They had drinks in his flat and then he raped her. To quiet things down, the officer pulled strings to prioritize her repatriation. By the time I went looking for her at the post, she was gone with a promise for complete silence in exchange for monthly support to her family.
In the United States, sexual harassment is now a trending item as the Harvey Weinstein scandal unfolds. More than a dozen women have come out to accuse the movie mogul of unwanted sexual advances.
The famous movie producer has fallen to the nadir of his career with the Oscars board expelling him following the barrage of sexual assault allegations. How many aspiring actors, actresses and models have been subjected to similar acts of harassment and sexual assault in our own movie industry?
No one knows, but a friend on Facebook who is knowledgeable about these things said that it does happen but no one wants to talk about such things. The coverage of the law, however, is quite limited.
The law classifies sexual harassment into two categories: It does not cover online sexual harassment or when a diplomat seeks sexual favors of a distressed migrant domestic worker.
Clearly, the law needs to be amended.
A Social Weather Station survey conducted in revealed that 3 out of 5 women have experienced sexual harassment at least once in their lifetime. The same survey also identified the top three forms of sexual harassment as wolf-whistling, lascivious language, and exhibitionism and public masturbation.
The law in its present configuration is silent on such actions.