Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Sexual Harassment at HCT

Here it is, the latest distressing and disturbing story about how you might expect to be treated if you decide to come and work at HCT. This account has been lightly edited, but the force of the tale remains, I feel.

I would like to describe how I was subjected to ongoing sexual harassment at an HCT college on an almost daily basis. I have no wish to mention any names, as my Tormentor (referred to as just ‘T’ from now on) continues to work at the same college, and I still work in the UAE, although in a different city and for a better organisation now. My aim is merely to highlight the way that I was mistreated by an alleged ‘professional’, how the HCT system turned its back on me, and to warn others that it could very easily happen to them.

My ordeal began during the second day of my new position as program supervisor some five years ago. T came into my office on the pretext of congratulating me on my promotion, but then proceeded to make a few tasteless comments that left his true intentions in no doubt. In all there was a whole series of more than a hundred humiliating incidents of sexual harassment that took place between 2005 and 2007. T’s behaviour ranged from the use of verbal harassment – frequent invites to evening functions, unwarranted compliments, and crude language – to unsolicited physical contact, such as touching my hair, brushing against me, and attempting to embrace me. It became a suttle form of psychological bullying, and T refused to stop even when I made it patently clear that I was not interested in his advances.

Of course I really wanted to make some sort of formal complaint about T’s predatory behaviour, but felt that I had nobody trustworthy to turn to. After all I was a relative newbie to the HCT system, and I was also told that complaining about one of the senior management team was virtually unheard of, that it would almost certainly have negative effects on my career at HCT. In the end I left the college, as my mental and physical health had suffered so much that I could no longer function in my post effectively.

I have been working in the field of education for around 25 years, and I have never come across such a corrupt and compromised organisation as the Higher Colleges of Technology. I could write a whole lot more, but even just composing these few words has made me realise how much I still need to try to put all this behind me.


Anonymous said...

I worked for HCT for 4 years and saw a lot of goofy as well as mean spirited stuff. However, to blame them for sexual harrassment when the person harrassed admits to never telling anyone for years is ridiculous. To claim that you were told that complaining was unheard of and so you just accepted the harrassment makes one wonder. HCT is not the best gig in town. If you are a competent qualified teacher/supervisor you could of just slapped the guy in the face and found a new job (at least after a few months or so). I for one never saw any sexual harrassment in the many years that I worked there.

Raja Karma said...

Quite unbelievable, I'd say: "However, to blame them for sexual harrassment when the person harrassed admits to never telling anyone for years is ridiculous."

So the victim is the one to blame, right?! I can't believe how naive that comment is. You just need to google 'sexual harassment' and I'm sure you'll find a million stories that relate how long=term harassment of this type is the norm rather than the exception.

Sadly, the victims typically don't know how to speak up about it, fear that they will lose thier jobs, secretly feel that they might have invited it, or assume that the bully will get fed up and just stop the harassment - a wide range of reasons to say nothing.

I'm shocked that anybody in the 21st century can even conceive of the idea that the victim is the one to take the blame. That's a bit like putting the guilt on a rape victim for having worn a short skirt - "she was asking for it"!

Maybe the naive poster is the Tormentor in question? Or just another HCT management goon?!

Anonymous said...

I hear that the individual in question had a lot of one-way sex with staff at the end of the last semester.

Apparently, the sex was so satisfying to him that most, if not all, of the assaulted staff members were noted to have "CLAW" marks on them.

Oh! And shall I say, "I have yet begun to fight!"

Anonymous said...

"If you are a competent qualified teacher/supervisor you could OF just slapped the guy in the face and found a new job"

Fine grammar, fine intellect, fine sentiments.

Pelham's Poodle said...

Hang on, I'm confused. The suffered-in-silence victim here says he/she was actually a "Program Supervisor", e.g. a MANAGEMENT GOON!!! Are we meant to show sympathy or just cackle at their misfortune? Or is humiliating and victimizing someone, e.g. by making jibes about their physical appearance, etc (in other words the same sort of psychological bullying decried here) only for those we think are asking for it? (Check the link). Just saying...

Raja Karma said...

You're welcome to pop and say whatever you like, PP. But you've done the usual HCT management goon thing and shot yourself in the foot (again).

The point is that the unfortunate lady's story proves two things (both of which went over your head). Firstly, it shows that senior management at the college level are content to let this sort of harassment continue (as they knew full well about it): and secondly, when her 'colleagues' at junior management level found out, they offered no help at all, and chose to ignore the problem.

Such people do indeed 'ask for it', I feel. Clearly you have missed the point that 'what goes around, comes around', as some like to say. In other words (are you getting the message now, goon?) 'one reaps as one sows' - especially if you're a very big sow!

Anonymous said...

Bit of an own goal Raja. In your first post you righteously thunder that you are shocked that anybody would "put the guilt on a rape victim for having worn a short skirt - 'she was asking for it'!"

Yet in your second post you're using exactly the same defence as the rapist yourself "Such people do indeed 'ask for it', I feel." Idiot.

Raja said...

Own goal? Not at all, dear Goon. In fact I'm surprised that you can't see it yourself. Or rather, that you have no fears about coming back to this blog to display your ignorance (a quality for which HCT undoubtedly promoted you well above your station).

Let me put it VERY SIMPLY for you, OK?

Wearing a short skirt is NOT a crime or indeed at all immoral. So nobody can seriously claim that anybody wearing a short skirt is 'asking for it' at all.

On the other hand, mistreating your colleagues and subordinates in the workplace, intimidating them over a period of time; turning your backs on colleagues and subordinates who need your help; all these are, if not illegal, quite immoral.

The fact that you can't tell the difference indicates your status as an HCT management goon. TK must be really proud of you guys - you sure have no compunction about showing off how dim you really are!

Anonymous said...

Just listen to yourself Raj - you're still using exactly the same defense that your hypothetical rapist would... "your honor, that woman did something I found, if not illegal, quite immoral (wearing a short skirt, the slut/did not like her management style, the loathsome old dragon) so I was perfectly justified in sexually assaulting her/harassing and humiliating her in public." Hypocritical idiot.

Raja said...

Ah! You still don't get it, do you, anon?!

But hang on . . . I do! Yes, now I get it - it's a wind up, you posing as an ignorant HCT management stooge! Trying to cast more shame on the callous bastards - neat!

Yes, I DO like it, I must say! SO would be proud of you, indeed!!

Anonymous said...

Pathetic - now you're just resorting to bluster

Anonymous said...

The tale as recounted is certainly sad and was undoubtedly distressing for the person involved, but it's hardly a convincing indictment of a "corrupt and compromised organization". It certainly would have been if the unfortunate victim had actually done something about the situation - eg, made a complaint, only to be ignored, rebuffed or humiliated by those above her in the organization. But the victim admits she/he (the piece does not identify the gender) let it carry on for several years without telling anyone, and eventually left. Unless there's more to the story, I fail to see why the victim can blame the HCT as an institution, and say the "system turned its back on me?" The system wasn't even given a chance.

(This is not to discount the pain and distress the victim suffered at the hands of a colleague. It's just that if the aim is to paint the whole of the HCT in a bad light, there are probably far better examples of HCT's systemic shortcomings out there than this)

Anonymous said...

This sounds like the guy that was known as 'Prod', which was a corruption of his real name (Rod?) and the fact that it was necessary for most females to carry a cattle prod when they ventured into his office, or vice wersa.

But I could be wrong, as 'Prod' no longer works for the HCT.