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More than a third of women sexually harassed at work, study finds

The report by Slater and Gordon also reveals that 28% of women say they have predatory male colleagues

MORE than a third of women have been sexually harassed at work in the past year, a study by law firm Slater and Gordon revealed today.

Of the 2,000 women surveyed, 37 per cent said they have experienced such harassment, while 39 per cent said they have witnessed colleagues being targeted.

The study also found that 28 per cent of women say they have a predatory male colleague or boss who uses his position to prey on staff.

Suggestive or inappropriate comments or behaviour were the most common experiences, but women also told of being subjected to sexually explicit or sexist conduct and, in some of cases, groped.

Only a fifth of the victims made a formal complaint, the study found, most believing that nothing would be done or fearing that they would not be believed.

Others thought that speaking out would harm their career prospects or that sexual harassment was the norm.

Many of those who did complain found that it made the situation worse, with consequences ranging from negative rumours and comments to being sidelined or removed.

Samantha Rennie, executive director of women's charity Rosa, said the study reflected TUC figures showing that the problem was not going away.

“[The] #MeToo and Time’s Up [movements] have been welcome steps in dragging this issue out of the shadows — we’ve never seen so many women coming forward with their stories — but it’s important that we tackle the systemic issues that allow for things like this.

“Women aren’t short of ideas for tackling harassment, abuse and the culture of impunity that prevails in this country.

“But women, especially those facing intersecting barriers such as race, disability, or uncertain immigration status often lack the resources to turn ideas into action.”

The study marks a year since the #MeToo movement rose to prominence amid allegations of mass sexual assaults in the entertainment industry, set alight by the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Slater and Gordon lawyer Clare Armstrong said the scandal “brought to the forefront the ugly environment" women are exposed to at work.

“It takes courage to report sexual harassment and the confidence that your employer will listen and support you, but I think many companies are still ignorant to the severity of the problem or are choosing to turn a blind eye,” she added.

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