In the United States, there are laws that protect women from harassment, sexual violence, and assault, but they are often used to cover up harassment, according to advocates.
As more states have laws requiring sexual harassment victims to go through an office process before being hired or fired, that leaves victims with no protection against harassment, said Kate Miller, the chief of the Sexual Assault Prevention Project at the Center for American Progress.
“The idea that women have a shield is kind of a nonstarter for me,” she said.
Miller, who was the first woman to lead the agency that provides legal advice to companies that deal with sexual harassment, also said that the law was not designed to address the reality that women are often victims of sexual violence and that survivors often have to go to the office to report their abuse.
“Women don’t have an expectation of protection that they’re not going to have to put up with this type of harassment,” Miller said.
“It’s a reality that people in this country, when you have that kind of harassment, that’s what it’s like.
They can’t just walk in the door and be treated fairly.
They have to take it.”
Women in the workplace, too, are often underrepresented in the criminal justice system, according a 2016 study by the National Women’s Law Center.
That study found that women who experienced sexual harassment were more likely to be arrested and charged with assault or domestic violence than were women who did not.
Many of the cases that the study investigated involved women who were sexually assaulted by a co-worker or boyfriend.
One in five women said they had been sexually assaulted or assaulted by their spouse or partner, the study found.
Many women also report being verbally or physically abused by their boss, boyfriend, spouse, or family member.
While these cases have not been fully investigated, the law requires that women in the workforce be interviewed by a counselor before they are hired or promoted.
“There are certain barriers that women experience in their careers, in the process of getting hired or getting promoted, that are going to prevent them from speaking up for themselves or others,” Miller told HuffPost.
“If you can’t be a survivor, you’re going to be treated like a victim.”
One of the biggest barriers that most women have to overcome is the idea that the system is not looking out for them, said Laura G. Johnson, a lawyer at the National Employment Law Project who has worked on sexual harassment and gender discrimination cases.
In some cases, women have experienced harassment in their personal lives or in work, Johnson said.
In many cases, that harassment will go unnoticed, because it’s part of the culture of the workplace.
“In the workplace there are certain things that women need to get over,” Johnson said, like not making assumptions.
“What happens in the office is not going in the paper.”
Women often have no way of proving that they were harassed, and the only way to do that is to go before an office administrator and prove it.
Johnson said the system needs to be overhauled, as well.
In the wake of the recent Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal, it’s clear that there is an issue that needs to change.
The system needs more women in positions of power and more people in leadership positions that understand what it takes to be a good employee, Johnson told HuffPost in a phone interview.
It’s not enough for women to simply come forward, she said, and she is hopeful that this year, lawmakers will pass laws that provide some protection for survivors of sexual harassment.
“That’s something that we need to be talking about, because if you have a system that is not working, we’re going back to square one,” Johnson told The Huffington Post.
“We need to change the way the law is written so that we don’t need to have the women in this position who are being victimized.”
If women are not able to speak up about sexual violence or sexual harassment within the workplace — as Miller and Johnson have — they may be able to face charges, but that doesn’t necessarily help them in court.
“For some of the people who have been in court, it has been incredibly traumatic for them,” Miller, of the Center, said.
She said that it can be hard to understand how it can take so long for a victim to file a complaint, especially if the incident occurred in the past.
Miller said that many women have been told that they should not speak out because it would jeopardize their career.
“I’m not trying to paint all women as rapists,” Miller added.
“But some of them are just victims, and that’s why they are so scared.
They are afraid of what could happen if they say something out loud.”
When a victim does file a charge, she must prove that the perpetrator was aware of the situation before they began to physically assault her, Miller said, adding that it’s important for a perpetrator to understand that they can