Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

How to prevent sexual harassment?

Every human has individual boundaries, at what point behavior is perceived as a violation of dignity or not. These boundaries have to be respected by everyone. If one person’s reaction to a sexist comment is positive, it does not mean that the comment is okay for everyone else. To make sure that a person is not hurt in his*her dignity, we should ask them for consent in a respectful way before we perform a sexual act. – e.g. “I would like to kiss you. Is that what you want to do?”

Consent is only possible, if a “no” as an answer is accepted in the same respectful manner. In this context it is important to include hierarchies and relationships of dependency. The prospect of professional or academic advantages in exchange with sexual amenability is not a free consent, as well as the threat of disadvantages, if it stays out.

As a general rule: any act, in which all people concerned give their consent willingly and without fear of negative consequences, is not sexual harassment.