The Perception and Construction of Sexual Harassment by Czech University Students
Czech Sociological Review
The individual perception of sexual harassment and the gap between the individual and legal-institutional defi nitions of sexual harassment has been subject to intense scientifi c scrutiny as this is considered to be one of the reasons for the failure of anti-harassment policies. This article focuses on perceptions and constructions of sexual harassment by students and the gap between students' individual defi nitions and expert (mainly legislative) defi nitions of sexual harassment. The
... assment. The article centres on two main research questions: (1) how do students perceive sexual harassment (whether they construct sexual harassment as something they might encounter in everyday university life) and (2) what are the factors and dimensions that contribute to particular behaviour being labelled as sexual harassment? The study is based primarily on qualitative in-depth interviews with students, which are complemented by quantitative questionnaire data from a survey conducted between 2008 and 2009 at a Prague university. The analysis shows that even if sexual harassment by professors is not an uncommon phenomenon among students, it is constructed as a remote problem which students perceive as something that does not relate to them. Although students do not label their experience of sexist and sexualised behaviour as sexual harassment, the analysis reveals certain factors which result in the labelling of certain behaviour as sexual harassment. The most signifi cant among these factors were the explicit nature of sexual harassment, power imbalance, situational context and the violation of individual boundaries.