Sexual harassment at work


A special evaluation of the representative study commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Women on the living situation, safety and health of women in 2004 found that every fourth woman interviewed (24.5%) aged between 16 and 65 said that they had experienced sexual harassment at work, school or during training at least once in their lifetimes; 8% had even experienced it frequently. 11% of women interviewed mentioned colleagues, 6% superiors, 5% customers or patients.

Generally speaking, harassment can affect all women, irrespective of their appearance, behaviour, age, family status or professional status.

It appears, though, that women and girls who are still in training, in lower professional positions, in insecure employment, of low seniority or without close relationships within the company tend to be particularly at risk. This means that victims are purposely chosen because they have little support, are in a relationship of dependence and have a lot to lose.

This certainly does not mean that women, who show confidence in their professional appearance and/or have close professional relationships, might not also be harassed. Women, who become direct competitors to men can be harassed sexually so as to “take them down a peg or two”.