Angela Crawley MP & Christina McKelvie MSP have condemned the findings of a report which shows that over half of women in the workplace are the victims of unwanted sexual harassment.
Research from the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Everyday Sexism Project (ESP) has revealed that 52% of female respondents have experienced unlawful sexual behaviour – ranging from inappropriate jokes and comments to sexual advances and groping.
The TUC report: ‘Still just a bit of banter?’ describes how one in eight women were victims of sexual assault, whilst 1% of respondents had been raped by a colleague.
When asked, four in five of respondents stated that they did not report the incidents, citing potential repercussions.
Commenting on the report, Angela Crawley MP said:
“Whilst no one – other than those guilty of it – can be blamed for sexual harassment in the workplace, the UK Government must do more to ensure that crimes are reported and victims are empowered.
“Sexual harassment, no matter how big or small, is discrimination, illegal and the perpetrators should and must be brought to justice.
“This report should act as a wake-up call to the UK Government, particularly around the implementation of expensive tribunal fees.
“As the SNP’s spokesperson for equalities at Westminster and a member of the Women & Equalities select committee, I’ve heard first-hand how much of a obstacle tribunal fees are – be it in maternity discrimination cases, or in sexual harassment cases.
“They act as a barrier to justice, compound discrimination in the workplace and, for that reason, I join with the TUC in calling for their abolition.
Following on, Christina said:
“This report is a damning insight into some of the reprehensible attitudes that still persist in the workplace. Sexual harassment is illegal – end of. It has no place in the workplace, no place in the street and no place in society. Anyone caught engaging in such behaviour must face the full force of the law.
“We need to start addressing the archaic attitudes that permit this behaviour to be passed off as banter. There is no friendly humour in a woman being terrified to return to her work for fear of sexual assault.”
Christina continued: “The report describes how women have been raped, yet are too scared to report what is the most heinous of crimes, for fear of potential repercussions.
“I’m encouraged, however, that the respondents have found the courage to come forward and speak about their experiences. I am immediately calling upon the UK Government to reinstate Section 40 of the Equality Act (2010) – the clause which specifically put a duty on employers to protect employees from harassment.”
“As convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee, I will ensure that the work of the Committee going forward will focus on achieving greater security and parity of esteem for women in the workplace. No woman should feel unsafe or under threat in her place of work.”