The highly successful series, MTV Shuga Down South has returned with more captivating and enlightening storylines.

The brand-new season of the drama series presents relatable topics that depict the experiences of young people dealing with various challenges including multiple forms of sexual harassment.  

MTV Staying Alive Foundation, the architects behind the series, have been independently evaluated and their campaigns, including the multi-award winning drama series, that has been proven to show an uptake in preventative measures against HIV amongst viewers of MTV Shuga in South Africa, a shift in attitudes as well as behaviours related to sexual health, contraceptive use, and sexual violence amongst viewers in Nigeria (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Tulane University).

Sexual harassment is unwelcomed and inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature and comes in various forms which may include the following: verbal, non-verbal, physical, cyber and workplace harassment. A report from Statistics South Africa states that in the last quarter of 2022, sexual offences increased by 9,6%, highlighting a pervasive rape culture that South Africans are grappling with. 

Here are 5 types of sexual harassment:

  1. Verbal Sexual Harassment

Verbal sexual harassment refers to unwanted comments, innuendos or behaviour of a sexual nature that creates hostility, intimidates, or is offensive to the person experiencing it. It involves using language that is sexually explicit, demeaning, or inappropriate, making explicit or sexually suggestive remarks, jokes, catcalling, street harassment or innuendos about a person’s body, or appearance, and using derogatory terms and slurs. This includes using language of a sexual nature to demean or belittle someone based on their sex or gender.

  1. Non-Verbal Sexual Harassment

Non-verbal sexual harassment refers to unwanted sexual behaviour or advances that are communicated without the use of words or explicit verbal language. It involves the use of non-verbal cues, gestures, or actions that convey a sexual nature or create a hostile or uncomfortable environment for the recipient. This includes sexually suggestive gestures such as winking, leering, or using facial expressions that are sexually suggestive, offensive, or invading someone’s personal space without consent. This can also include standing too close or brushing against them in a way that feels intrusive or sexual.

  1. Physical Sexual Harassment

Physical sexual harassment refers to unwelcomed physical contact or advances of a sexual nature that violate a person’s boundaries and rights. It involves using physical force, gestures, or actions to engage in sexual conduct without the individual’s consent. This includes unwanted touching, groping, cornering, or blocking someone’s path, exposing one’s genitals, engaging in indecent exposure in front of another person without consent, and or forcible sexual contact or penetration without consent.

  1. Cyber/ Online Sexual Harassment

Cyber sexual harassment refers to the use of digital communication platforms and technology such as social media or messaging apps to engage in unwanted and sexually inappropriate behaviour towards individuals. This includes sending explicit messages, sharing intimate photos without consent, revenge porn, online stalking, harassment, creating fake online profiles, impersonating someone else to deceive, or manipulate, and engaging in sexually inappropriate conversations or actions with unsuspecting individuals. 

  1. Workplace Sexual Harassment

Workplace sexual harassment occurs when individuals experience inappropriate sexual advances, comments, or actions in their professional environment. This includes quid pro quo harassment: imposing unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, or other verbal and physical conduct as a condition for employment benefits, promotions, job security, or other favourable treatment. It also includes creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment through pervasive or severe sexual comments, jokes, gestures, or other sexual conduct that interferes with an individual’s work performance and creates an uncomfortable atmosphere.

Sexual and physical harassment seriously violates a person’s rights and can cause significant physical, emotional, and psychological harm. Victims may experience significant emotional distress, fear, anxiety, decreased work performance, and negative impacts on their mental health. It is important that if anyone has experienced any form of harassment, they seek help and support.

Here’s Where to Get Help:

If an individual has experienced sexual harassment or witnessed it, they can seek assistance and report incidents to various organisations which focus on assisting victims and survivors. These organisations include: 

·       Sister Unathi through MyPrEP: https://myprep.co.za/

·       Ask Choma: https://www.choma.co.za/

·       People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) 011 642 4345/6

·       Gender-Based Violence Command Centre 24-hour helpline 0800 428 428

·       TEARS Foundation 24-hour helpline 010 590 5920Hypress

·       Publication Board’s Hotline (report revenge porn) 0800 148 148

·       Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust 021 447 9762

·       Stop Gender Violence helpline 0800 150 150

·       Cybercrime Unit of the South African Police Service 0860 010 111

·       South African Police Service (SAPS) 10111

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