They'd been working together in the municipality for over 15 years, and had a very good working relationship, besides being friends. One could say that they were almost like sister and brother. Then came the blow: under a new efficiency plan, almost a third of the workers were to be dismissed – and she was one of them. He felt so bad for her, and decided that he must talk to her. He reached her office and opened the door, standing there for a second or two with his hand on the doorknob. She had her head down on the desk and was crying. She looked up when she heard the door opening and saw him, and her sobs intensified. He felt that he had to comfort her somehow. He released his hand from the doorknob, the door closed, and he strode quickly towards her. Then –

Why not? What is permitted and what is prohibited? Where is the red line? 

He sat in his office in the late afternoon, after most of the workers had gone home, doing some paperwork that he had no time to do before, because of all the meetings that he had to attend. Then all at once the door of his office opened and one of the secretaries walked in. She was wearing a low-cut blouse and tight pants, and when she opened the door and closed it behind her, a waft of perfume filled the air. She sat down across from him and leaned forward. "I've been meaning to talk to you for a while," she said softly. "After almost three years with the company, don't you think it's time that I got a raise?" As she spoke, her fingers touched his, and then…

How dare he?! Sexual harassment!! Criminal! Put him behind bars for the rest of his life! He should never see the light of day!

Are we truly so naïve, so utterly unaware of basic human nature, that of men and that of women? And if we are aware, why do we allow – sometimes even encourage – situations in which such inappropriate incidents may happen? After all, there are certainly ways to avoid them, only one of them being to simply put some object on the floor that keeps the door permanently open. Do we not see the difference between a premeditated crime by a criminal and a transgression by a normative person?

By the way, she never got that raise. And the lives of two families were forever ruined. Not for the first time. Nor, it appears, for the last. 


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