Despite gains made toward equal rights for women in the past decades, sexual harassment continues to plaque women at an alarming rate. While not necessarily involving physical harm or any illegality, the insidious nature of sexual harassment may cause irreparable damage. Such acts are not motivated by any particular behavior of the victim, but by gender and the pathology of the perpetrator.
A recent New York Times article indicates that 42% of all women have experienced sexual harassment. (NYT, 10/22/91) One reason that sexual harassment continues unabated is that victims are afraid to seek redress. Silence is often misinterpreted as assent, and yet to speak out may be too costly to the victim. Another obstacle to victims of harassment is the absence of adequate legal remedies to compensate for emotional trauma and to deter future harassment. Victims should have available to them the full panoply of remedies afforded for other forms of discrimination and injury.
THEREFORE , the Union of American Hebrew Congregations resolves to:
- Support enactment of legislation to provide victims of sexual harassment with monetary compensation for the harms they have suffered and punitive damages to deter future harassment. Money damages for emotional distress are an essential part of compensatory damages.
- Develop, in conjunction with its affiliates, programs that raise the consciousness among men of the realities of sexual harassment and its impact on women, and to teach respect for women and their right to be free from any form of sexual coercion.
- Develop programs and procedures that insure against the occurrence of sexual harassment in Reform Jewish congregations and institutions.