Table of Contents


  1. Harassment In General
  2. Sexual Harassment

Harassment In General

Harassment is any form of behavior that is not wanted and not asked for and that humiliates someone, offends them, or intimidates them.

Harassment occurs when an employee or group of employees must endure a work environment that is hostile, offensive or intimidating to them.

Harassing conduct includes things like epithets, mockery or demeaning jokes, and implied and explicit threats of violence.

Usually harassment is ongoing or a series of events. However, legally just one act can constitute harassment. Harassment can take many forms. Depending upon whether the behavior is welcome or not the following could be considered harassment:

A relationship or behavior that is freely accepted by everyone involved is not harassment. If people are in doubt about whether a particular behavior is acceptable, they should ask the person whether it is. If they are told to stop they should do so immediately and apologize.

Workplace culture, what we accept and do not accept in the workplace, is the key to preventing discrimination and harassment at work. Management has a strong impact on workplace culture.

For harassment prevention to be effective, an atmosphere of trust and open communication must be established.

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Sexual Harassment

In legal terms, sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance or conduct on the job that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. In real life, sexually harassing behavior ranges from repeated offensive or belittling jokes to a workplace full of offensive pornography to an outright sexual assault.

What action is available in Dubai against 'Sexual Harassment'? What happens if colleagues and people you work with, sexually harass you?

There exists no special laws or regulations in the UAE which protect from Sexual Harassment.

However, the UAE's Penal Code incriminates any scandalous and disgraceful act.

In fact,  Articles (358) and (359) of the UAE Penal Code respectively provide that:

Article (358)

"Whoever openly commits an indecent and disgraceful act shall be punished by detention for a period of at least six months.

Whoever commits a disgraceful act with a girl or boy who has not completed fifteen years of age even if it is not committed openly, shall be punished by detention for at least a period of one year".

Article (359)

"Whoever attempts to disgrace a female by words or by deeds in a public street or frequented place, shall be punished by detention for a period not exceeding one year and by a fine not exceeding ten thousand Dirhams, or by either of these two penalties.

The same penalty shall apply to any man who disguises himself in a woman's clothing and enters a place the entry into which is reserved for women. If a man in such a case commits a crime, it shall be considered an aggravating circumstance".

Articles (360) to (370) of the UAE Penal Code further incriminate acts of incitement or seduction into committing debauchery

These provisions ensure protection for women against acts of sexual harassment at the workplace.

A woman who is harassed can submit a complaint to a police station specifying the type of harassment, the harasser(s), the time and place of harassment and witnesses or evidence. A complaint must be serious, clear and specific.

What steps should you take to stop the Harassment prior to filing a criminal complaint?

Tell the harasser to stop. Surprisingly often this works. In fact, when confronted directly, harassment is especially likely to end if it is at a fairly low level:  jokes, inappropriate comments about your appearance or repeated requests for dates after you have said no.

But clearly saying you want the offensive behavior to stop does more than let the harasser know that the behavior is unwelcome. It is also a crucial first step if you later decide to take more formal action against the harasser. And give serious thought to documenting what's going on by keeping a diary or journal. Your case will be stronger if you can later prove that the harassment continued after you confronted the harasser.

If the harasser has ignored your oral requests to stop, or you are uncomfortable talking to the harasser face to face, write a succinct letter demanding an end to the behavior-and save a copy. If that doesn't end the harassment, you should escalate your complaint within the company. Check with someone in the human resources or personnel department how to make a sexual harassment complaint. You are on safest ground if you inform the company management of the harassment. You can do this by making a complaint to the human resources department, telling your supervisor of the problem or sending a letter to a company Senior Executive.

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