Politics | Mar 05

Is "Head Patting" Sexual Harassment?

GUNMA, Mar 05 (News On Japan) - Allegations of sexual harassment by the mayor of a town in Gifu Prefecture, including "head patting," has ruffled feathers, with many women in the streets expressing discomfort with such gestures in the workplace.

Residents of Ginan Town shared their thoughts:

Mayor Eiichiro Kojima (74) of Ginan Town said, "In our generation, it was common to pat the heads of children who did well or worked hard."

The resignation of Mayor Kojima of Ginan Town, Gifu Prefecture, was prompted by allegations of sexual harassment. Among the 99 reported acts of harassment, the "head patting" stirred controversy. When asked whether head patting is perceived as harassment, responses varied:

A 20-something student said, "It's scary and creepy if I were to be patted on the head at work in the future."

A teenager said, "If there's mutual trust, experience, and years of interaction, it wouldn't bother me. But if it's someone I need to maintain distance from, I'd be put off."

A 30-something self-employed individual said, "Whether it's considered harassment depends on the mayor's character. If he's seen as creepy, then he should be held accountable."

Besides "head patting," other behaviors also raised questions about what constitutes harassment:

A teenager said, "A friend's manager at her part-time job asked about her boyfriend. In today's society, I'd find that unacceptable."

A 30-something employee said, "Calling a colleague by their first name in a joking manner is risky. We're at work, so that should be kept separate. Complimenting someone's appearance is definitely considered harassment at my company."

A 40-something employee said, "There might be situations where it's okay to say someone looks cute after a haircut, but those in higher positions should be careful. I have subordinates, and I try to hold back and not say anything that might be taken the wrong way."

Expert advice on avoiding harassment:

Yoh Murasaki, Representative Director of the Japan Harassment Association, said, "Any sexual behavior against someone's will is harassment. To avoid it, be cautious about unnecessary physical contact and comments about appearance. Before speaking or acting, imagine how the other person might react. It's a step toward preventing harassment, even if perfection is difficult to achieve."

Source: ANN

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