Nearly one in five respondents said the perpetrator was their direct supervisor, and around 25 per cent expressed fears that if they reported it, they would not be taken seriously or even believed.
The report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and women’s rights group Everyday Sexism revealed that younger women seem to be more prone to harassment than other age groups with those in the 18-24 age bracket having the most issues.
“The numbers are shocking and it should be a wake up-call,” Alice Hood, head of equality at TUC told Lin Taylor at the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Sexual harassment is still a really big problem for women in the workplace. It’s certainly not gone away.”
Hood says that many women do not report harassments as they are either embarrassed, thought they would not be taken seriously or were worried it may even damage their careers. She stressed that employers must face up to these issues and deal with harassment through staff training, adjusting workplace culture and implementing strict policies.
According to the report, which surveyed 1,533 women across Britain aged between 18 and 65, sexual harassment can include sexual jokes or innuendos, the circulation of pornography, inappropriate touching or unwanted sexual advances.
“Things have not improved anywhere near as much as people would like to think,” said Laura Bates, founder of Everyday Sexism.
“It’s so pervasive because it isn’t being talked about. Women don’t feel they are able to come forward, and when they do, it isn’t being dealt with at all.”
“Maybe it’s happening on email or social media – but it’s still harassment and it still has a really humiliating effect on people experiencing it,” she added.
“Employers need to do much more – it is clearly a huge problem. The first step is taking it seriously … so people know that harassment won’t be tolerated.”
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