Workplace draft code makes winking sexual harassment

By Hong Chieu   May 30, 2022 | 09:11 pm PT
Workplace draft code makes winking sexual harassment
A man winking. Illustration photo by Shutterstock
An anti-sexual harassment draft code for workplaces says winking and certain finger gestures could be construed as non-verbal harassment at the workplace.

The Code of Conduct, drawn up by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, defines sexual harassment as any behavior that is sexual in nature and unwanted by the receiver.

It is an update of a code drawn up in 2015.

Physical acts include touching and suggestions that could lead to sexual attacks. Verbal acts include speech of sexual nature, in person, on the phone or through other digital media, inappropriate social and cultural comments, inappropriate language about one's clothes and body, and frequent requests for private meet-ups.

Non-verbal acts include gestures like winking, blinking, certain finger movements, showing pornographic materials, and sending images and objects of sexual nature.

Normal encouragement and compliments and consensual sexual acts (between adults) are not considered sexual harassment. They can still be punished if they violate company regulations.

Sexual harassment in the workplace can take place in many forms, including suggestions, threats, coercion into performing sexual acts for favors, or simply making the work environment uncomfortable.

The Code of Conduct however is not a legally binding document, and authorities have urged businesses to adopt it as their code of conduct to foster a healthy work environment.

There are no comprehensive statistics on sexual harassment, but a study on gender equality in the workplace conducted by the International Labor Organization and Navigos Search in Vietnam in 2015 found 17 percent of respondents, all mid-level employees, saying they or someone they knew had "received sexual requests from higher-ups in exchange for various favors."

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