Sexual Harassment

You should be able to feel comfortable in your place of work or learning. If you are being sexually harassed, you can report it to the authorities at your job or school.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature in the workplace or learning environment, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( EEOC ). Sexual harassment does not always have to be specifically about sexual behavior or directed at a specific person. For example, negative comments about women as a group may be a form of sexual harassment.

Although sexual harassment laws do not usually cover teasing or offhand comments, these behaviors can also be upsetting and have a negative emotional effect.

What does sexual harassment look like?

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances. The harasser can identify with any gender and have any relationship to the victim, including being a direct manager, indirect supervisor, coworker, teacher, peer, or colleague.

Some forms of sexual harassment include:

  • Making conditions of employment or advancement dependent on sexual favors, either explicitly or implicitly.
  • Physical acts of sexual assault.
  • Requests for sexual favors.
  • Verbal harassment of a sexual nature, including jokes referring to sexual acts or sexual orientation.
  • Unwanted touching or physical contact.
  • Unwelcome sexual advances.
  • Discussing sexual relations/stories/fantasies at work, school, or in other inappropriate places.
  • Feeling pressured to engage with someone sexually.
  • Exposing oneself or performing sexual acts on oneself.
  • Unwanted sexually explicit photos, emails, or text messages.

What is the difference between sexual harassment and sexual assault? What about sexual misconduct?

Sexual harassment is a broad term, including many types of unwelcome verbal and physical sexual attention. Sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior, often physical, that occurs without the consent of the victim. Sexual harassment generally violates civil laws—you have a right to work or learn without being harassed—but in many cases is not a criminal act, while sexual assault usually refers to acts that are criminal. Some forms of sexual assault include:

  • Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape.
  • Attempted rape.
  • Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetration of the perpetrator’s body.
  • Fondling or unwanted sexual touching.

Sexual misconduct is a non-legal term used informally to describe a broad range of behaviors, which may or may not involve harassment. For example, some companies prohibit sexual relationships between coworkers, or between an employee and their boss, even if the relationship is consensual.

Where can sexual harassment occur?

Sexual harassment can occur in the workplace or learning environment, like a school or university. It can happen in many different scenarios, including after-hours conversations, exchanges in the hallways, and non-office settings of employees or peers.

What can I do when I witness sexual harassment?

You may have heard the term  bystander intervention  to describe stepping in to help if you see someone who might be in danger or at risk for sexual assault. Bystander intervention can also be a helpful strategy if you witness sexual harassment. You don’t have to be a hero to make a positive impact in someone’s life, and you can intervene in a way that fits your comfort level and is appropriate for the situation. If you choose to step in, you may be able to give the person being harassed a chance to get to a safe place or leave the situation. Below are some of the steps you can take if you see someone being sexually harassed—just remember to C.A.R.E., and of course, keep your own safety in mind at all times.

  • Create a distraction.  Do what you can to interrupt the harassment, or distract those taking part in the harassment. But remember to make sure that you aren’t putting yourself in danger by doing this. If someone seems like they could become violent, do not draw their attention.
  • Ask directly.  Talk directly with the person who is being harassed. If they are being harassed at work or school, offer to accompany them anytime they have to meet with the harasser. If a friend is worried about walking alone to their car at night, offer to walk with them.
  • Refer to an authority.  The safest way to intervene for both you and the person being harassed may be to bring in an authority figure. You can talk to another employee, security guard, RA in your dorm, bartender, or bouncer, and they will often be willing to step in.
  • Enlist others.  It can be hard to step in alone, especially if you are worried about your own safety or if you don’t think you will be able to help on your own. It may be a good idea to enlist the help of a friend or another bystander.

What are some effects of sexual harassment?

Experiencing sexual harassment may cause some survivors to face emotional, physical, or mental health concerns. Some of them might include:

For more resources and information from RAINN about sexual harassment, visit That's Harassment .

Emotional effects:

  • Humiliation
  • Powerlessness and loss of control

Mental health effects:

  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of motivation
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal ideation

Physical effects:

  • Increased stress levels
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Eating disturbances

Where can I learn more about sexual harassment?

  • Visit the  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)  to learn more about sexual harassment laws and your rights in the workplace.
  • If you are a minor, you can learn more at  Youth at Work , EEOC’s website for youth in the workforce.

To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at .

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Know Your Rights at School

Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment

How to use this guide, definitions & examples, what are the laws, what are my rights, what can i do, what could happen, tools & resources.

  • College/higher education: Go to the Student Survivor Toolkit 
  • Go to our K-5 guide

For information on your rights regarding online sexual harassment that happens during remote virtual learning, see our Online Harassment & Cyberbullying guide.

  • If you would like to apply for free legal help or advice about a  California school-related issue , please  fill out this form  to request an appointment with one of ERA’s trained legal counselors ( ENOUGH advocates ). All services provided are  completely free and confidential.

Content warning: This guide contains information and examples of sexual assault and sexual harassment that may be triggering or overwhelming for you, especially if you are a survivor of sexual violence. Please be aware of your emotional and mental needs while reading. You may want to take breaks, skip over or skim some sections, or ask a trusted loved one to read it for you and take notes.

How to use this guide : The purpose of this Know Your Rights Guide is to help you understand your rights and options if you have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment at a school or university. This guide is not official legal advice. Laws frequently change and can be interpreted in different ways, so we cannot guarantee that all of the information in this Guide is accurate as it applies to your specific situation.

I was glad to finally have a partner in fighting for what I knew was right. Neither of us wanted to see this happen to anyone else. Júlia Sanchez, ERA student client

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There are different forms of sexual assault and sexual harassment. You can be assaulted or harassed by a fellow student, a teacher, professor, coach, staff or faculty member, or (if you work at the school) by a coworker.

Sexual Assault is a physical invasion of your body. It can sometimes result in bodily harm or injury, as well as psychological and emotional trauma. The definition of sexual assault includes rape, as well as other acts that invade or hurt your body. Other examples of sexual assault include inappropriate touching, groping, attempted rape, forcing you to perform a sexual act, or penetrating any part of your body with a part of their body, or with an object.  If what happened included unwelcome touching of your body, the situation may have involved sexual assault.

Sexual Harassment ranges from unwanted touching, gesturing, and inappropriate jokes, to someone promising you a good grade or a promotion in exchange for sexual favors or requiring sexual favors in order to give you something you deserve or want in a school or work setting. Sexual harassment does not always have to be “sexual.” It can also look or feel like teasing, intimidating or offensive comments based on stereotypes (e.g., about how certain people “are” or should act), or bullying someone based on their sex, gender identity (man, woman, trans, intersex, nonbinary, two-spirit) or sexual orientation (queer, bisexual, lesbian, gay, asexual, pansexual, etc.).  There is no requirement that the sexually harassing person or persons derive any sexual pleasure from their acts or that they are sexually attracted to their victims.

In short, sexual harassment is harassment that is sexual, sex-based, or gender-based in the nature of the harassment itself, regardless of the orientation, gender-identity, sexual interests or pleasure of the harasser.

Examples of sexual harassment include but are not limited to:

  • unwanted repeated requests for sexual favors or dates from a peer
  • requests for sexual favors or dates from a teacher to a student in a k-12 setting
  • inappropriate or lewd comments said or repeated to you or around you
  • inappropriate or lewd comments about someone’s body or appearance
  • saying bad things about someone (or about a group of people) based on gender identity or sexuality
  • gender-based or sexuality-based slurs (swear words)
  •  jokes about sex, or making fun of people generally based on their gender identity or sexuality (i.e. “all women…” or “bisexual people are…”)
  • Note: It can still count as sexual harassment even if the behavior or comment is not aimed at you specifically. For example, if you are a trans student who hears a group of other students making offensive jokes or insults about trans people in general, that could still be considered harassment even if they were not directing those comments to you as an individual.
  • unwanted emails, texts, messages, videos, or photos of a sexual nature
  • gossip about someone’s personal relationships or sex life
  • unwanted touching of any body part, clothing, face, or hair
  • staring, leering, or making gestures of a sexual nature
  • blocking someone’s way or their movement, especially in a physically threatening or intimidating way
  • inappropriate touching, massaging, kissing, or hugging
  •  flashing or mooning
  • Note: pornographic pictures of anybody under the age of 18 is illegal child pornography, even if the person who took or shared the pictures is also under the age of 18.  If you are reporting vulgar pictures or pornography, the age of the subject of the pictures or videos can be an important fact to tell the responsible school party you are reporting to.

Important things to remember

  • Legally, for something to be considered sexual assault or harassment, what matters is what the victim/survivor experienced. It does not matter if the person who did the assaulting or harassing thinks it was OK, harmless, not sexual, or “welcomed” (they thought you liked it, wanted it, or didn’t have a problem with it). It counts as sexual assault or harassment if the behavior made you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, was unwanted, or violated your body.
  • It counts as sexual harassment even if you did not immediately say “stop,” or “no,” or something else to let the person know that what they were doing or saying was unwanted or inappropriate. For example, you might laugh at a joke, or accept a hug, because you’re caught off guard in the moment, or because you’re worried the person will react badly if you don’t go along. Or, in the case of sexual assault, you may have been too drunk or inebriated to consent. This is not your fault.  Nobody deserves to be harmed by another person when incapacitated, no matter what.
  • You can still experience sexual assault event if you previously consented to sexual activity with that person, or if you used to date them or sleep with them. Saying “yes” once or even multiple times does not mean that you said “yes” to other sexual acts. Consent must be given (and asked for) every time.
  • Most importantly: It is never the victim’s or survivor’s fault . Do not let anyone blame or shame you.

Sexual harassment and sexual assault are considered versions of unlawful gender discrimination at school. Both are illegal across the country.

1.  Sexual assault and sexual harassment are illegal at U.S. schools that receive federal funding (Title IX)

Title IX (“Title 9”) of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 makes discrimination based on gender illegal at schools, colleges, and school programs (including school-affiliated sports teams, programs, and clubs) and in any education program that receives federal funds (i.e., prison diploma programs, construction trade training programs). Sexual assault and sexual harassment are forms of gender discrimination under this law.

If you are sexually assaulted or sexually harassed at school – or if the harassment or assault has a negative impact on your equal access to school (for example, if you have a class with the person who assaulted you at a party off campus, or if the fear and anxiety of running into that person even if you don’t have a class with them is interfering with your equal ability to move around your campus as a student would) – you can report the incident (called “making a Title IX complaint”) to your school and request that they take immediate, reasonable, action to help you feel safer while they investigate your Title IX complaint.

  • The Title IX process will take place at your school only. It is not connected to the criminal justice system, so it will not involve off-campus police, jail, or a trial court.  While you can file a criminal complaint and a Title IX complaint at the same time if you want to, these are separate processes investigated by different authorities.  Title IX is a type of student misconduct complaint.  A school must begin, continue, or complete their internal Title IX investigation regardless of whether a separate police investigation is undertaken or ongoing.
  • Legally, your school must share (or make available) its policies on sexual harassment and sexual assault with every student, teacher, and staff member. (Those policies may be under a “gender discrimination” section in the student handbook, HR manual, or school board policies.) Your school must also provide students with information about how to report sexual violence or harassment, known as a “grievance procedure.” This policy should tell you what happens after you report, including how the investigation will go, and what “interim measures” are available from the school to help you feel safe during the investigation.
  • Note about Title IX at private schools : If the school receives any federal funding, they must comply with Title IX.  This includes most but not all private and religious schools. If you’re not sure whether your school receives any federal funding our how to find out, contact an ERA team member through our ENOUGH program .

2.  If you report sexual assault or harassment, your school cannot ignore you or blame you . The law requires all federally funded schools and colleges to respond to reports of sexual assault or sexual harassment in a reasonably quick and appropriate way. This means once you tell your school about sexual harassment or sexual assault, they should start an investigation without much of a delay (it may take a few days, but should not take longer, unless you report over a school closure or holiday period, in which case it should not take longer than a couple weeks after school resumes). If the results of the investigation show that the sexual assault or sexual harassment more likely than not occurred, your school must then take immediate steps to stop the harassment or assault if it is ongoing, or to prevent it from happening again.

Sometimes schools don’t follow the law. Schools can break the law by mistreating or ignoring those who report sexual assault or sexual harassment. For example:

  • The investigation could be delayed, or could drag on for too long
  • The school could ignore or dismiss you
  • They could try to get you to drop the complaint
  • They could lash out against you for reporting, or make you feel as if it was your fault
  • They could tell you they’re not required to investigate your complaint when in fact they might be, based on what you have learned about your rights here.

If any of these things happened to you, if your school investigated and did nothing to help make you feel safer, or if your school made things even worse for you when you reported to them what happened to you (this is a type of bad response known as “institutional betrayal”) you could take legal action . If you’d like to apply to speak to a legal advocate for free about your options for taking action, fill out this form .

Schools must also do something to address the negative results of the sexual assault or sexual harassment, which could mean providing counseling for you, or giving you academic support, such as allowing you to re-take a test or a class if your grades suffered as a result of the assault or harassment.

3.  Retaliation is illegal.

It’s illegal for anyone to retaliate against (punish or intimidate) you for reporting or speaking out against sexual harassment or sexual assault that happened to you or someone else, or for participating in an investigation. Examples of retaliation for reporting include:

  • if your school tries to limit where you, the victim of harassment or assault, can go. (For example, a Mutual No-Contact Order that says you must leave a place if you see your assailant there.)
  • if you, the victim of harassment or assault, are asked to switch classes or move dorms
  • if you’re not allowed to go to certain places at certain times
  • if a school official or investigator makes you feel ashamed, or makes you feel like if was your fault that you were harassed or assaulted
  • if someone threatens you, tries to make you drop the complaint/investigation, intimidates you, or coerces you (promises you something in exchange for dropping the complaint/investigation)
  • if you work at the school or school program, and you’re fired or demoted; you receive a pay cut or a reduction of hours or benefits; you’re assigned a different shift, location, or position; you receive new or different duties; or you’re asked to take time off.

 If you were retaliated against and would like to apply to speak with a legal advocate for free about your options, fill out this form .

For me, queer justice is not about being punitive. It’s about being transformative. It’s about creating space for healing and accountability. Kel O'Hara, ERA attorney

Read Kel’s Story

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 You have the right to:

1.  Feel safe at school after sexual assault or sexual harassment. Your school is required by law to provide a safe learning environment that is not “hostile” to you, which includes creating an environment that’s free from violence, harassment, and intimidation.

  • If you reported sexual assault or harassment and your school did not take it seriously , or has not done anything to make you feel safer, or made things worse for you at school, you could consider contacting one of our ENOUGH legal advocates .

2.  Be told about your school’s policies on sexual assault and harassment — including how to report — in a way that you understand. The policy should tell you who to report to, and give you information about what could happen and what to expect of the school process after you report.

3.  Talk to anyone you want about sexual assault or sexual harassment that happened to you. You also have the right to speak out against sexual assault or sexual harassment at your school, or to speak out against a school policy or practice that is harmful to survivors of sexual assault or harassment.

4.  Report the sexual assault or harassment to a school official , including a professor, teacher, coach or faculty member. But be aware that if you tell a teacher, professor, coach, or school official about sexual assault or harassment, they are required , under other laws, to report it to a higher-up person at your school. If you do choose to report, we recommend reporting in writing (email or letter) and making copies for yourself. (For more on how to report sexual assault or harassment in writing, see the What Can I Do? section below.)

5.  Report it without telling the assailant or harasser in advance. You do NOT have to tell the person who sexually assaulted or harassed you that you are going to report it to your school or that you are going to file a Title IX complaint. You do not even have to tell them after you report them or file the complaint, but they will find out if the school opens an investigation, so be prepared.  The school has a legal obligation to let them know that a complaint was made against them and to collect their statement and/or answers to any questions the school may have in its investigation.

6.  Warn the assailant that you are considering filing a Title IX complaint.   It is OK to “threaten” reporting and then decide not to report if you are satisfied that the assailant’s harassing has stopped or if you change your mind about reporting.  You are not obliged to report just because you told your peers that you might report. But again remember, many school employees are “mandated reporters,” so they will be required to report once aware of what happened.

7.  Have your Title IX complaint taken seriously and investigated by your school.  Once your school is aware of the sexual assault or sexual harassment, the law requires them to (1) take quick action to stop the harassment or assault if it is ongoing, and (2) provide protection for you if necessary. Protection could include issuing a “no-contact order”— which is like the school-version of an unofficial temporary restraining order— against the person who sexually assaulted or harassed you.

  • Note: A no-contact-order issued by a school is not a legal document, and it is not enforceable by a court of law or by police who are not campus police.But it is an official school document and is enforceable by the school and/or campus police under the school’s misconduct policies.
  • Be aware : Investigations usually include the investigator interviewing the person who sexually assaulted or harassed you, and they will know that you are the one who reported them. If you think knowing this will make the person dangerous, be sure to tell your school and also make clear that you expect the school to take immediate actions to help you feel safe. The investigation will also include interviewing you in detail about the incident(s), and could involve interviews with potential witnesses. Usually, but not always, a school asks for a list of potential witness from both the student who complained (the “complainant”) and the student accused of the harassment or assault (the “respondent”).  The school may also interview individuals not on either student’s witness list whom the school believes might be important to talk to.

8.  If your school does any of the following after you report, you have the right to seek legal action against the school:

  • if they ignore you
  • if they don’t investigate
  • if they don’t offer you protection when you need it
  • if they treat you badly after you report, for example making you feel like it was your fault, like you are lying, or that you are overreacting
  • if the school has created a dangerous situation for you or other students by inviting or keeping a serial assailant on campus

If your school did any of these things to you, we may be able to help. Learn more about our Learn more about our ENOUGH program, which provides free, confidential legal advice.

9.  Participate in a Title IX investigation or be a witness for someone else. Whether it’s an investigation into something that happened to you, or to someone else, you have a right to participate without barriers or retaliation — even if the claims end up being dismissed, or the investigation determines that sexual assault or harassment didn’t occur.  

10.  To make a police report or seek other civil remedies . You have the right to report conduct that is a crime (such as harassment or assault) to law enforcement if you want to. You are not required to do so in order to file a Title IX complaint. You can use the civil (non criminal) court system to obtain a restraining order or sue your assailant for money. Your school cannot attempt to stop you from asserting any of these legal rights, or to force you to do so.  

11.  To do nothing. It is a perfectly acceptable choice to do nothing about the assault or harassment you experienced. It is 100% your decision whether or not to come forward about your experiences.

If your rights were violated and you’d like to speak to a legal advocate about your options for taking action, apply for free legal help using this form.

If you or someone you know was sexually assaulted or sexually harassed, here are some things you could do. Remember: It is normal to be afraid or worried about reporting sexual assault or sexual harassment. Do what is right for you. These are just examples of some options you have.

1. Talk to an ENOUGH legal advocate. We provide free, confidential legal advice and help. Fill out our online application form  to request a phone appointment with an ENOUGH advocate , attorneys who are here for you and can give you free legal information, tell you what your rights and options are, and potentially provide legal representation.

  • Note: At this time, we are only able to help with incidents that occurred at California colleges (or other CA higher education institutions).

2. Look at your school’s policies on sexual misconduct and the Title IX complaint process . Most schools have a Student Handbook or Code of Conduct.  You may have received it when you started at the school, and it may be available on your school’s website. Look through these policies to figure out what options you have. The policy should include information about how to report the misconduct (sexual assault or harassment).  If it looks like your school does not have policies at all, or if you think their policies do not meet the requirement of Title IX, please contact us . Not having policies, or having legally inadequate policies, is a violation of Title IX.  If you are looking into the policies of a K-12 school, our checklist might help you evaluate your schools policies and the accessibility of those policies.

3.  Write everything down. If you are thinking of filing a Title IX complaint, you should write down what happened as soon as you can so you don’t forget any details. This step may be very difficult, but it is recommended so you can protect yourself during an investigation and in the months that follow the harassment or assault.

Note : It is very normal for a person who has experienced such harm, especially sexual violence, to have trouble remembering things in order, to sometimes remember only some parts of what happened, etc.  This is a protective response the brain has to to help protect a person who has experienced trauma.  If you write things down, as much and as soon as you can, this will help you have the information you need as you move forward, even if your mental and emotional needs make remembering the exact chronology of events difficult as time goes.

  • Save any emails, texts, letters, or messages from the person who assaulted or harassed you, or any messages or emails you sent to someone else about the incident.
  • Write down what happened to you , including dates and times, where it occurred, what exactly was done and said, and the names of any potential witnesses from during, before, or after the incident. Include as much detail as possible. If you’re comfortable doing so, ask any witnesses to write down what they saw or heard.
  • Keep notes of any meetings you have with school officials . Record the time, date, and places of the meetings, who was there, and what was said.
  • Keep copies of all documents, emails, or letters regarding your report, the investigation, the Title IX complaint , and any other related files, including copies of your responses.

If you think your school retaliated against (punished or intimidated) you for reporting, keep detailed notes of every action that happened, including who, when, where, and any witnesses to the retaliatory actions or threats.

4.  Report the sexual assault or harassment to a school official . Try to find contact information for your school’s Title IX Coordinator. If you can’t find it, ask a trusted teacher, your RA, academic adviser, or guidance counselor. But remember: If you tell a teacher, professor, advisor, or counselor about sexual assault or sexual harassment occurring, they’re required by law to report it to a school official.

  • If you do want to officially report and have the school investigate, we recommend submitting your report in writing , whether it’s an email or letter that you give to the Title IX coordinator in-person. Be sure to keep copies for yourself. This report should include detail of what happened, including the date and time, place, and who was involved.
  • Dear [name of Title IX coordinator or school official], I’m writing to confirm that we met/talked on the phone today, 2023, to discuss the fact that I was sexually assaulted/ sexually harassed by [name] on 2023. You told me that you would [what they said they would do] by 2023. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me about this issue.  Please let me know if you have any further questions for me and what you expect the timeline of your investigation to be. [Your name]”

5.  If you reported sexual assault or harassment to your school and you were ignored or mistreated, you could seek legal action. If your school ignored you, tried to get you to “drop it,” did not tell you about your right to file a Title IX complaint, made you feel bad for reporting, did not investigate, took too long to investigate, or tried to blame you for the assault or harassment, they broke the law.

Download "Power of IX Checklist: K-12" PDF

The process at every school is different, and can even be different at campuses within the same university system, but most follow the same basic procedure:  

1.  Initial interview: Once you report the sexual assault or sexual harassment (known as “making a Title IX complaint”) the Title IX Coordinator, administrator, or school employee who is assigned and trained to handle Title IX investigations, should reach out to conduct an initial interview with you (as the victim of sexual assault or harassment, or as the person reporting something you witnessed or are worried about) to gain more information. This interview will form the basis of the complaint, so it is important to be as clear as you can, to include any detail you can remember, and to let the investigator know when you are unsure about something. It’s OK if you don’t know everything.

  • At this point, a school official or the Title IX Coordinator should provide you with information about the investigation process, your rights, your options to request interim measures to help you feel safe and supported at school, and your right to have an advisor of your choice assist you. Other services that may be available to you that the school should tell you about include counseling and academic services. All of this information should be given to you at the initial meeting.  

2.  Investigator interviews : After the initial interview, an investigator may be assigned to your case. The other party (the person who harmed or harassed you or someone else) will be notified and interviewed. The investigator will then interview any witnesses and receive any evidence provided. If you have any questions about how the investigator will contact the person you are complaining about, it is OK to ask the investigator to explain it to you and tell the investigator about any concerns you might have.

3.  Follow-up questions : The investigator might follow up with you if more questions come up during their investigation.

4.  Evidence review (COLLEGE ONLY): Once the investigator completes the process of interviewing everyone involved, they will most likely send summaries of the witness statements and any evidence to both parties for the evidence review. This is your opportunity to correct anything misstated, to rebut (oppose) any false statements by the other party or their witnesses, or to comment on the relevance of evidence or why the investigator should not consider certain evidence.

5.  Issuing a determination : Once the evidence review period is complete, the investigator (or a different school official) will make a determination as to whether or not the violation took place. This is based on a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that it is more likely true than not true that it occurred. If, by this standard, the school finds that the sexual assault or harassment occurred, it may recommend a sanction (a consequence for the person responsible).

6.  Possible hearing (COLLEGE ONLY) : Depending on what state you are in, whether your allegations include sexual violence, and whether the other party is a student or an employee, there may be a hearing after the determination is made. You may or may not have a right to appear at this hearing, and the other party may or may not have the opportunity to ask you questions about your allegations.

7.  Option to appeal:

  • College : Once a decision has been made about what happened and what disciplinary action should be taken, both parties typically have the right to appeal the decision to the Chancellor or some other officer at the school. Appeals are typically made because the disciplinary action taken by the school was not appropriate (either too big or too small), the evidence does not support the finding that was made, there was some procedural error in the investigation or hearing, and/or there is new evidence that should be considered which could change the outcome. The case might be sent back to the investigator to fix any errors that occurred, the decision could be overturned and replaced with a new decision, or the decision could be affirmed and kept in place.
  • K-12 : The structure of the appeal process differs by state. If you don’t like the outcome of the investigation, you should see if your school district has an appeal process, or you could appeal to a state entity, such as your state’s Department of Education.

Have questions or need legal help? Apply to speak with an ENOUGH advocate for free legal help, information, or advice. Fill out this form to get started.

  • Apply for free legal advice or counseling from one of our legal advocates (California higher education only)
  • Stop Sexual Assault in Schools — website with more information and resources
  • Power of IX Checklist — Is your school doing enough to help end sexual harassment and assault, and following Title IX?
  • Ending Harassment Now — Our groundbreaking investigative report about widespread sexual violence and sexual assault in education – and schools failing to comply with Title IX requirements for all survivors’ equity.

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Street Harassment Essay

essay about sexual harassment brainly

Show More Street harassment is a huge issue in the world and desperately needs to end. It is not right for men to comment on women and girls in the streets. Women feel vulnerable in the streets due to the fact men harass them and comment on how they look. It is extremely disrespectful to women because men degrade them down to how they look. Men appear to be more powerful and women feel as though they can't fight back. In some people’s eyes, it’s fine for men comment on women but it isn’t. Some women can't even walk down streets without men commenting on how they look. Men appear to be more powerful than women. Males act,most of the time, mentally more powerful than women. Women are more sensitive and show more feelings than men. This makes it easy to break down women mentally which men do with street harassment. Men take advantage of this and harass them in the streets. This experience can be very disturbing for women. Some might not go to school or work scared of being commented on again. Women feel pressured to look pretty. When they do …show more content… Many women find street harassment very rude and hate that men comment on how they look. Women are usually offended by this act. Some women are afraid to stand up for themselves. Street harassment is a serious crime and needs to stop. It is not O.K for men to disrespect any women by commenting on how they look. It just isn’t right. Women feel like it’s rude how men think of them like this. Women believe that it isn’t right that men think of them as a pleasure to the eye. Women feel as though men think that they aren’t more than good-looking and beautiful. I know for a fact if I were a victim of street harassment I would not feel good. I would feel as though some men are simple minded and are very rude. Men are disgusting and nasty for thinking like this. Women can’t even walk down the street without feeling like they are being judged whether it’s good or

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The many faces of sexual harassment in PH

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This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

The many faces of sexual harassment in PH

MANILA, Philippines – President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is under fire after wolf whistling at a reporter in a press conference on Tuesday, May 31, and defending it days after by saying that it was “not a sexual thing.”  

A good number of netizens accept Duterte’s explanation that whistling at a woman is covered by freedom of expression. Others are certain that Duterte violated Davao City’s ordinance prohibiting catcalling women . 

What constitutes sexual harassment? Where do you draw the line?

What is sexual harassment?

In Section 3, Republic Act 7877, or the  Anti-Sexual Harassment Act  of 1995, classifies sexual harassment as:

Work-related or in employment environment

This is committed when a person demands, requests, or requires sexual favors from another person in exchange for another thing such as hiring for employment, re-employment, or continued employment, granting favorable compensation, terms of conditions, promotions, or privileges.

Refusal to accept sexual favors would mean discrimination or deprivation of employment opportunities.

It is also sexual harassment if the sexual favors would result to abuse of rights under the labor law and and an environment that is intimidating, hostile, or offensive for the victim.

This may be committed by an “employer, employee, manager, supervisor, agent of the employer, any other person who, having authority, influence or moral ascendancy over another in a work environment, demands, requests or otherwise requires any sexual favor from the other.”

In education or training environment

This is committed when a person demands, requests, or requires sexual favors from a student in exchange for “giving a passing grade, or the granting of honors and scholarships, or the payment of a stipend, allowance or other benefits, privileges and considerations.”

Just the same, if the sexual favors would result to an “intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for the student, trainee, or apprentice,” they are also considered sexual harassment.

This may be committed by a “teacher, instructor, professor, coach, trainor, or any other person who, having authority, influence, or moral ascendancy over another…demands, requests, or otherwise requires any sexual favor from the other.”

Under the Civil Service Commission Resolution Number 01-0940 , a set of administrative rules for government employees, forms of sexual harassment include:

  • malicious touching
  • overt sexual advances
  • gestures with lewd insinuation
  • requests or demands for sexual favors, and lurid remarks
  • use of objects, pictures or graphics, letters or writing notes with sexual underpinnings
  • other forms analogous to the ones mentioned

Meanwhile, the Women’s Development Code of Davao City, which Duterte himself signed as mayor, aims to protect the rights of women by punishing those who committ sexual harassment, among other things. 

Under Section 3 of the ordinance, “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature, made directly, indirectly or impliedly” can be considered sexual harassment.

The following are considered forms of sexual harassment:

  • persistent telling of offensive jokes, such as green jokes or other analogous statements to someone who finds them offensive or humiliating
  • taunting a person with constant talk about sex and sexual innuendos
  • displaying offensive or lewd pictures and publications in the workplace
  • interrogating someone about sexual activities or private life during interviews for employment, scholarship grant, or any lawful activity applied for
  • making offensive hand or body gestures at someone
  • repeatedly asking for dates despite verbal rejection
  • staring or leering maliciously
  • touching, pinching, or brushing up against someone’s body unnecessarily or deliberately
  • kissing or embracing someone against her will
  • requesting sexual favors in exchange for a good grade, obtaining a good job or promotion, etc
  • cursing, whistling, or calling a woman in public with words having dirty connotations or implications which tend to ridicule, humiliate or embarrass the woman such as “puta” (prostitute), “boring,” “peste” (pest), etc
  • any other unnecessary acts during physical examinations
  • requiring women to wear suggestive or provocative attire during interviews for job hiring, promotion, and admission

Street harassment is among the most common forms of sexual harassment. (READ: The streets that haunt Filipino women )

Sexual harassment in public spaces: “Unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation.” – Stop Street Harassment Organization

Street harassment can happen in public places, such as in and around public transportation, public washrooms, church, internet shops, parks, stores and malls, school grounds, terminals, and waiting sheds.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority , sexual harassment may happen in the following:

  • premises of the workplace or office or of the school or training institution
  • any place where the parties are found, as a result of work or education or training responsibilities or relations
  • work- or education- or training-related social functions
  • while on official business outside the office or school or training institution or during work- or school- or training-related travel
  • at official conferences, fora, symposia, or training sessions
  • by telephone, cellular phone, fax machine, or electronic mail

Women are most vulnerable

STREET HARASSMENT. Have you ever walked down the street and experienced verbal, physical, or sexual harassment?

The Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act , also known as Republic Act 9262, also considers sexual harassment as a form of violence against women.

Section 3 of the law says that sexual violence refers to “rape, sexual harassment, acts of lasciviousness, treating a woman or her child as a sex object, making demeaning and sexually suggestive remarks.”

A 2016 study conducted by the Social Weather Stations found that women are most vulnerable to sexual harassment.

In Quezon City, Metro Manila’s biggest city with a population of over 3 million, 3 in 5 women were sexually harassed at least once in their lifetime, according to the report. In barangays Payatas and Bagong Silangan, 88% of respondents ages 18 to 24 experienced street harassment at least once.

Across all ages, 12 to 55 and above, wolf whistling and catcalling are the most experienced cases. (READ: ‘Hi, sexy!’ is not a compliment )

Quezon City is the first city in Metro Manila to impose penalties on street harassment.

In the Philippines, 58% of incidents of sexual harassment happen on the streets, major roads, and eskinitas (alleys). Physical forms of sexual harassment occur mostly in public transport.

Sexual harassment can be punished under Republic Act 7877, or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, and the provisions of the Revised Penal Code on Acts of Lasciviousness.

RA 7877 penalizes sexual harassment with imprisonment of 1 to 6 months, a fine of P10,000 to P20,000, or both. Acts of lasciviousness, on the other hand, would mean imprisonment under the Revised Penal Code. –  

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Because of those little voices in your head, it’s hard. Especially when you’re so close with everyone in a community there’s the fear factor of ‘Will they still accept me?’

Sometimes I’m faced with discrimination and that just sends me straight back inside and sends me deeper into the depression I was already in.

For a period of time I didn’t want to go out. I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t want to wake up – I just wanted to stay in my bedroom, stay asleep in my little cocoon.

How can it help to have a critical part of you being devalued? And often really severely – to be told ‘Oh you’re not really who you are, you don’t know your own life’.

I found the older I got the more anxious I became just about life in general. I felt that every day had the possibility of presenting something really quite hurtful to me.

I got sick of being sick. I didn’t want to live for the rest of my life feeling as miserable and as empty as I was.

Previous slide - visual effect only

The impact of discrimination

Many lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) people report to dealing surprisingly well with systemic discrimination, and most do not experience depression or any other mental health condition. However, experiences with discrimination and stigmatisation can lead to a higher likelihood of emotional distress, depression and anxiety.

People can often feel pressured to fit in with society's conventional ideas of being male or female. Those who don't fit the mould can be subjected to ridicule, intimidation and even physical abuse.

Even though there is an increasing acceptance of LGBTIQ+ people in society and greater visibility in the media and public life, many LGBTIQ+ people still experience discrimination, harassment and violence at work, school and in social situations.

Discrimination can take the form of:

  • obvious acts of prejudice and discrimination (e.g. someone who is open about being transgender being refused employment or promotion)
  • more subtle, but no less harmful, discrimination that reinforces negative stereotypes and feelings of difference (e.g. use of the word 'gay' as a derogatory term).

Stop. Think. Respect. 

Because of the things people say and do, LGBTIQ+ people are far more likely to experience depression and anxiety. Beyond Blue is committed to raising awareness about these issues and helping to reduce the discrimination faced by LGBTIQ+ communities. 

Beyond Blue, in collaboration with LGBTIQ+ communities and the Movember Foundation, has produced a national campaign aimed at improving the Australian community's understanding of discriminatory behaviour and the impact it can have on the mental health of LGBTIQ+ communities.

The campaign, including the  Left hand  cinema commercial and  real life stories , works predominantly with the broader Australian community, and young people in particular. It has been designed to prompt people to  stop  the discrimination,  think  about how comments you make could cause real distress and harm, and  respect  people who are different from you.

Real life stories

Annaliese, Gina, Marlee, Rob, Sally and Shane share their stories of being treated differently and how they have overcome depression and/or anxiety. You can watch their stories at the top of this page, or visit our  Stop. Think. Respect.  page to find out more about our campaign.

Philippine Legal Research

Philippine Legal Research

essay about sexual harassment brainly

R.A. No. 11313 or The Safe Spaces Act: Addressing Gender-Based Sexual Harassment Online

By Alexandrine Ann Buyco, JD 1 and Cyril Dave Lim, JD 1

Gender-based sexual harassment can be experienced anywhere be it in public spaces, offices, or educational institutions. With the evolution of technology and the accessibility of the internet, sexual harassment has also become prevalent in the online space. Republic Act No. 11313 “An Act Defining Gender-Based Sexual Harassment in Streets, Public Spaces, Online, Workplaces, Educational or Training Institutions, Providing Protective measures and Prescribing Penalties Therefor,” otherwise known as the “Safe Spaces Act” is a more comprehensive act that creates a more comprehensive coverage of gender-based sexual harassment in any space, including the online space.

Purpose and Objectives of the “Safe Spaces” Act

One of the purposes of RA 11313 is to broaden its reach in ensuring an individual’s sense of personal space and public safety. Similarly, RA 7877 (Anti Sexual Harassment Act of 1995) is closely related to RA 11313 (Safe Spaces Act of 2019). The former has a limited definition of sexual harassment which is only confined to the harassment being committed in employment, education, or training environment, and for other purposes committed by very specific persons. 

There are many instances however that sexual harassment occurs in public places and even online not covered by RA 7877. Further, the safe spaces act also protects people of all genders from online sexual harassment such as in social media or electronic mail (Article II – Gender-Based Online Sexual Harassment). Moreover, the safe spaces act does not limit the persons who are liable for sexual harassment in education and training institutions (Article V – Gender-Based Sexual Harassment in Educational and Training Institutions). The persons liable in the aforementioned article do not necessarily need to be superior or who have moral ascendancy over the sexual harassment survivor to commit sexual harassment.

Therefore, it is no longer necessary that sexual harassment be limited to those that were mentioned in RA 7877. With the advent of social media, RA 11313 also included the protection even to cyberspace and provides acts and their corresponding penalties.

What is gender-based sexual harassment (GBSH)?

When referring to gender, Republic Act No. 11313 defines it as a set of socially ascribed characteristics, norms, roles, attitudes, values, and expectations identifying the social behavior of men and women as well as the relations between them. Gender identity would be the personal sense of identity characterized along the spectrum of the feminine- and masculine-presenting conventions regardless of their sexuality. 

Gender-based sexual harassment constitutes any acts that are committed through any unwarranted, unwanted, and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person, of any gender identity, regardless of the motive for committing such action or remarks. 

According to the Social Weather Station , in 2016, 3 out of 5 women, 88%  from the ages of 18 to 24 have experienced at least one form of sexual harassment at least once in their lifetime. Over 34% of women experience the worst forms of sexual harassment like flashing, public masturbation, and groping. Other forms of sexual harassment include wolf-whistling, lascivious language, voyeurism, indecent gestures, and sending pornographic pictures and videos. Catcalling and unwanted sexual remarks could include sexist remarks, homophobic remarks, misogynistic remarks, and transphobic remarks. 

Gender-based Sexual Harassment in the Online Space

In the Philippines, the number of Filipinos using the internet has only increased. In 2017, over 67.74 million Filipinos were internet users, according to Statista . By 2018, the numbers rose to 72.45 million and in 2020 there were 79.66 million Filipino internet users recorded, which would be more than half of the total population. The firm forecasts that by the year 2026, 91.57 Filipinos would be utilizing the Internet. 

Of the 79.66 million Filipino internet users in the year 2020, 78.5 million were present on social media. As of the year 2021, it is estimated that of the 82.41 million Filipinos present on the Internet today, 81.53 million would use social media. By the year 2026, 91.3 million Filipinos will be using at least one social media platform.

In another study done by Statista, as of March 2019, 86% of 18 to 24-year-old Filipinos use the internet while 71% of 25 to 34-year-olds are online. Those ages 35 to 44 and 45 to 54 would have 55% and 30% of their population utilize the internet respectively. Only 14% of those 55 years and above are present on the internet, the study showed. 

In a separate study published by the same statistics firm in May of 2021, an average Filipino internet user in 2020 would have spent around four hours and 15 minutes per day on social media.

With the presence of Filipinos on the internet, it is not uncommon for the online realm to be a reflection of the in-person world. People in the online space, just like in the public space, experience sexual harassment. 

In a study done by Pew Research Center published in 2014, online sexual harassment, and any other form of harassment, was prevalent on social media platforms and even in online gaming spaces. Gender-based online sexual harassment, according to RA 11313, refers to the online acts targeted at a particular person. These acts cause or are likely to cause mental emotional or psychological distress and fear of personal safety. Aside from unwanted sexual remarks, comments, and threats, uploading or sharing of one’s photos without consent, video and audio recordings, cyberstalking, and online identity theft are considered gender-based online sexual harassment. 

In 2020, 7 in 10 or around 68% of girls and young women in the Philippines reported experiencing online harassment as reported by a study conducted by Plan International . Eight out of 10 or 79% of those that have reported said they have received threats of sexual violence on social media, the majority of which said they were harassed by people they know. 

Assessing the Value and Effectiveness of the Act in Solving the Problem

Before the Safe Spaces Act, there were a few constitutional and legislative provisions that addressed violence against women. There was Article II, Section 14 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution recognizing the role of women in nation-building and ensuring the fundamental equality of both women and men in the law. There was also the Republic Act 6955 or the Anti-Mail Order Bride Law, R.A. 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, R.A. 8363 or the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, R.A. 8505 or the Rape Victims Assistance and Protection Act of 1998, R.A. 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, R.A. 9262 or the Anti0Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, as well as R.A. 3815 or Article 245 of the Revised Penal Code addressing the abuse against chastity committed by any public officer.

essay about sexual harassment brainly

Before the enactment of RA11313, there are numerous acts complained about that constituted harassment of sexual nature but could not fall under the definition of sexual harassment because the offender was neither an employer or superior at work but someone else. A civil case may be filed for damages, however, if the aggrieved party wanted to pursue a criminal case, the offender may only be charged with Acts of Lasciviousness which entails a much lighter penalty than sexual harassment as defined under RA 7877.

The Safe Spaces Act improved upon the previous provisions by recognizing problems that are borne by the signs of the times and inclusively addressing these problems. One provision R.A. No. 11313 covers in particular is the stringent online regulations in giving respect to those who are silent victims of the following:

  • Physical, psychological, and emotional threats
  • Unwanted sexual misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, and sexist remarks and comments online whether on public posts or through private messages
  • Invasion of the victim’s privacy through cyberstalking and incessant messaging
  • Recording or sharing any of the victim’s photos, videos, or information without permission
  • Impersonating victims’ identities
  • Posting lies about victims to harm their reputation and filing false abuse reports to online platforms to silence victims

Penalties for Perpetrators of Online Gender-Based Sexual Harassment

The penalty of prision correccional in its medium period which is imprisonment of six (6) months and one (1) day to two (2) years and four (4) months, or a fine of not less than One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000) but not more than Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000), or both, at the discretion of the court shall be imposed upon any person found guilty of any gender-based online sexual harassment. 

The PNP Anti-CybercrimeGroup is tasked to receive complaints and to develop an online mechanism for real-time reporting of gender-based online sexual harassment. The Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center of the DICT is also made to coordinate with the PNP to prepare appropriate and effective measures to monitor and penalize gender-based online sexual harassment. 

How to Spot Online Sexual Harassment and How to Report Cases

Gender-based online sexual harassment comes in many forms and it is important to know what to look out for. If it is an act that uses the online space to terrorize and intimidate the survivor, it is considered online sexual harassment. 

essay about sexual harassment brainly

Sexual harassment threats could be any private message or public comment containing tines of sexual misogyny, any type of transphobia or homophobia, or just overall sexist remarks. When identifying cyberstalking as an offense, the stalker must have manifested the conduct through repeated use of electronic communications in stalking. A report cannot be made if the perpetrator only visits the publicly accessible online profile. However, online sexual harassers may use photos and other media from their survivors’ online profiles to impersonate their identities online or post incriminating lies about them to harm their reputation. They may even go to the lengths of filing false abuse reports to online platforms to silence the survivors.

The unauthorized recording or sharing of the survivor’s photos, videos, or any other information online is prohibited under the act. Any photos, videos, or voice recordings of sexual content that were uploaded and shared without the consent of at least one party involved also constitutes online sexual harassment that needs to be reported immediately to the proper authorities as well as the platforms the media was uploaded to be taken down as promptly as possible

Supporting Sexual Harassment Survivors

Reporting cases of gender-based sexual harassment is important. It allows the proper authorities to address the situation as well as create a safer environment for the survivor wherein they will not interact with the harasser first-hand. Not a lot of survivors report their cases. As PCW Chairperson Rhodora Bucoy reported, “2 in 5 women, that is 41%, aged 15 to 49 have never sought help to end violence nor told anyone about the violence.  1 in 4 told someone about violence but did not seek help.”

In a study conducted by Safer Spaces , survivors of gender-based sexual harassment and violence may not report cases due to the fear of not being believed or being accused of lying. They might carry a feeling of guilt or shame with what they have experienced, or have been intimidated to be silenced.

Sexual harassers need to be held accountable for their acts. The public must know that such actions are not permissible and, in the eyes of the law, are very much punishable. R.A. No. 11313 is meant to provide survivors the legislative and judicial support to come forward with their cases and show perpetrators that such acts are not something that can be dismissed. 

In times like these, it is important to assure the survivor that they are believed and they are supported. The survivor should be advocated for and be empowered to advocate for themselves to go through the necessary steps so that justice may be served. 

Practical Tips on Report Cases of Online Gender-Based Sexual Harassment and 

When identifying gender-based sexual harassment and promptly reporting it, it is best to secure digital evidence of the act when filing the online report. The PCW advises taking note of the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) or the web address of the website or social media account of the perpetrator. Take screenshots and make a printout of the content being complained of. To do this, open a browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox on a laptop or desktop computer and open the pertinent account or page and print that webpage. 

When contacting the authorities, it is best to directly contact PNP’s Anti-Cybercrime Group e-complaint desk via or through their complaint action centers.

The survivor can also directly file a complaint with the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center or CICC which allows survivors to submit a cybercrime complaint in five steps, walking the complainant through every step. The Philippine National Police has an Anti-Cybercrime Group and Women and Children Cyber Protection Unit (WCCPU) which can be contacted through their email [email protected] and the Office of the Cybercrime (OOC) of the Department of Justice which can be contacted via email as well [email protected]

The PNP WCCPU can also be contacted via landline (02) 8723-0401 local 5354 or through cellphone 0927 084 3792. The DOJ OOC can be contacted via landline, (02) 8526-2747 and (02) 8521-8345, and their office is found on the 3rd floor of the De Las Alas Bldg., Department of Justice, P. Faura St., Ermita, Manila 

Investigation Confidentiality and Other Salient Features

It is worth noting that survivors of gender-based sexual harassment may avail of appropriate remedies provided for under the law, this includes psychological counseling services with the aid of the LGU and the DSWD. Any fees charged shall be borne by the harasser. 

If need be and where appropriate, courts can issue a restraining order directing the perpetrator to stay away from the offended person even before rendering a final decision. And in any stage of the investigation, prosecution, and trial of an offense under the Safe Spaces Act, the rights of the victim and the accused who are considered minors shall be recognized. Confidentiality is also required to be observed at all times by employers, heads of schools, and training institutions when handling gender-based sexual harassment in their institutions.

Exceptions to the law include acts that are legitimate expressions of indigenous culture and tradition. This could be wearing traditional attires of tribes or clans that may show partial nudity provided that it does not discriminate against women, girls, and persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. Breastfeeding in public is also not penalized under the Safe Spaces Act. 

It is only when cases are taken seriously, properly reported, and addressed that the Filipino people will be able to enjoy safer environments online and in real life, free of sexual harassment.

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Each of us has the right we respect each other or respect whatever religion or state in life should be equal or fair in all things. For us to avoid disrespect to each other because all problems start with misunderstanding.

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