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Do victims of sexual harassment have an obligation to come forward?

by AirTalk®

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Many are calling for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to resign after less than a year in office amid allegations that he sexually harassed women. Greg Bull/AP

More women have come forward accusing San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of sexual harassment, bringing the total to seven women, with more expected. Among the recent victims to come forward are retired Navy rear-admiral Veronica Froman, who claims Filner once blocked the door in front of her after a meeting and stroked her face while asking if she was in a relationship. Also Joyce Gattas, a dean at San Diego State University, has come out with accusations that Filner has held her tightly, kissed her cheek and touched her knee.

The amount of women to come forward is now only expected to increase -- in fact the city of San Diego has established a hotline specifically for allegations regarding the mayor -- and it begs the question: why did it take so long for the first accuser to come forward?

Is there a certain level of sexual harassment that many women just feel resigned to stomach? Could it be that some of these women just didn’t want to deal with the fallout of making an accusation, which would include a blitz of legal work and media attention and potentially distracting from their careers? Is there a degree of fearing retribution for making such claims?


Louise Fitzgerald, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Psychology, and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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