It was not long ago that most schools took the step to formalize their systems for the prevention of sexual harassment. Ewha"s regulations regarding measures to prevent and handle sexual harassment were enacted in May of 2001. In order to protect the anonymity of the students, the school is unable to give any specific information regarding reports.
However, Professor Choi Kyung-hee (Science Education) of the counseling center explains that the cases are resolved systematically. First, a sexual harassment commission is organized as soon as counseling begins. The committee undertakes an indepth investigation of the occurrence. Then a set of recommendations on settling the issue and preventing further wrongdoings are made. The decision is reached with the consent of the victim, and is carried out with assistance from the counselors and the school body. It is important to report an incident within one year of its occurrence.
Women"s rights groups at Ewha are now also seeking to broaden the scope of behaviors which sexual harassment encompasses. Sexual assault is no longer restricted to physical assault, but includes emotional and psychological attacks, especially verbal conduct of a sexual nature, which has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. The Ewha "Women"s Committee" is now receiving reports on such less obvious misdeeds, and plans to hold a seminar in mid-October to discuss these issues.
Nonetheless, some are skeptical of extending the definition of sexual harassment, claiming it is too vague and may be subject to arbitrary individual interpretation. Furthermore, the opposition argues that it is a "back-door assault" on freedom of speech.
One example they cite is a case tried in 1993 at the University of New Hampshire. A professor was suspended for using disturbing examples with sexual implications in his creative writing class. However, on free speech grounds, a U.S. District Judge decided that so long as the professor? speech applied to the topic he was teaching, then the speech is protected. Thus, he was reinstated.
Another case involving visual sexual harassment is also considered controversial. The incident, known as "Goya"s Gotta Go" involved a reproduction of a Goya painting of a nude woman being taken down from a classroom wall at Pennsylvania State University in 1991, following a complaint from a female professor that displaying it was a form of sexual harassment.
Women"s rights advocates, however, maintain that a subjective stand is necessary. "Whatever the case, it is the victim that defines what sexual harassment is. Anything that is disturbing and intimidating to someone is a form of harassment to the person," says Kwon Soo-hyeon, a counselor at the Sexual Harassment Counseling Center.
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