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Sexual Harassment

Harassment can be described as actions which alarm a person or cause them distress. The law states that a person who pursues a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another person, and which he knows or should know, amounts to harassment of such other person, shall be guilty of harassment.

Sexual harassment is a form of gender-based violence. Sexual harassment is defined as:
•unwelcome sexual advances,
•requests for sexual favours,
•other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature
•or creation of an unwanted sexualized environment.

The content available on this website is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For free legal or emotional advice and support pertaining to your specific situation, please contact Victim Support Malta (21228333)

Facts and information: sexual harassment

If you are a victim of continuous acts which are unwelcome, either including spoken words, gestures or circulations of words or pictures, then you may be a victim of harassment. Harassment can also include unwelcome conduct based on race, colour, religion, sex, age, disability or sexual orientation.

Sexual harassment is another specific form of harassment and can include: 
•Unwelcome physical contact such as touching, hugging or kissing;
•Nasty jokes;
•Unwanted invitations to go out on dates or requests for sexual interaction;
•Intrusive questions about an employee’s private life or body;
•Threats to demote, fire, harm (emotionally or physically) if sexual or dating requests are not met or if victim/ survivor tells other people

If you are a victim of sexual harassment, you might feel offended, humiliated, intimidated, angry, fearful, or even embarrassed. All these are common effects on people who suffered harassment. You could also be made to doubt your own judgement or self-worth while also blaming yourself about what happened or be blamed by others.

Remember, what happened was not your fault. Speak up and get the support you need. 
 

Should a person be found guilty of sexual harassment, they are liable to a term of imprisonment for between six months and two years, a fine from €5,000 to €10,000, or a combination of both (art. 251A.4 of the Criminal Code).

Are there instances where a harsher punishment is applicable?
 
The law provides that there are certain circumstances where the punishment is increased by one degree. This is if the offender harasses his or her:

  •  Parents or ascendants;
  •  Siblings,
  •  Spouse;
  •  Any person having or having had a child with the offender;
  •  Any person living with the offender or who had lived with the offender within a period of one year preceding the offence;
  •  Any person who is or had been formally or informally engaged with a view to get married;or persons related to each other by consanguinity or affinity up to the third degree inclusively;
  •  A witness or referee who shall have submitted evidence or opinion in a suit, and on account of such evidence or opinion
  • Children under 9 years of age
  • A public officer lawfully charged with a public duty
  • An officer or employee of a body corporate established by law and such offence was committed due to such person exercising such functions.

 

When charging an offender, the court may issue a protection order to protect the injured party or any other individual from harassment. The Court is also free to impose any restrictions or prohibitions it seeks fit in order for such protection order to be effective. This is different from a restraining order in the sense that a protection order is effective before the judgment becomes final. It is best to talk to your lawyer or prosecuting officer if you wish to ask the Court to issue such an order.