According to new statistics by the “National Trade Union” centre (TUC) and “Everyday Sexism Project”, nearly two in three women experience sexual harassment at work. Yes that’s more than half of the women in the UK and nearly two thirds of them are aged between 18-24 years old. In 17% of these cases, women have been the target of sexual harassment by their line manager or a person with direct authority over them in the workplace.
The statistics from the TUC survey, reveal that 32% of women have been subject to unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature at work, while 23% have experienced unwanted touching.
Sexual harassment takes form in different ways whether it’s a comment or a psychical action, it can be equally damaging. Nevertheless, the relaxed attitudes towards sexual “jokes” in the workplace are the reason many women fail to report incidents. As stated in TUC study, 28% of women think reporting sexual advances will impact negatively on their relationships at work and 15% believe it will affect their career prospects. Others can feel too embarrassed to talk about it or think they won’t be taken seriously, which has resulted in 79% never telling their employers about it.
“How many times do we still hear that sexual harassment in the workplace is just a bit of ‘banter’?” says TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady. “Let’s be clear – sexual harassment is undermining, humiliating and can have a huge effect on mental health. Victims are often left feeling ashamed and frightened. It has no place in a modern workplace, or in wider society.”
A woman who agrees with this is 22 year old Zoe, who stood up for herself after being a victim of sexual harassment at work: “One day my supervisor who was known for being disgustingly sexist, asked me to show him my hand. When I held it out, he said “Yes, my cock would fit in that.” I was so shocked. I reported him to our company director who immediately interviewed me and every female who had been harassed. We were taken seriously and the sexist supervisor was dismissed by the end of the day.”
Like Zoe’s case, speaking out about sexual harassment in the work place and standing up to the perpetrator should lead to direct action being taken. If you are worried about sexual harassment and more information or need advice on how to protect yourself, please visit: TUC