Eleven and a half percent of working women — around 165,000 woman — have been harassed at work, according to a government survey released on Sunday. In 26% of the cases the harassment was done by a senior worker, and in 36% the direct superior of the employee was the one harassing her.
More than 3,000 women were interviewed by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor’s research and economics administration, 1,000 women answered questions through online forms and the rest were interviewed by phone. All those who participated had worked for at least one month during 2011.
The findings of the study were presented to the minister, Shalom Simhon, at a Monday morning conference. Simhon said, “Victims of harassment in society are many, with the harm far surpassing the direct victims.”
According to the ministry’s research department, 73% of those who were harassed at work earn less than NIS 10,000 a month, indicating that most sexual harassment is directed at women occupying mid-level positions or lower.
The survey also shows that 77% of harassment victims stayed at their workplace, while only 9.3% left or were fired. Of those who remained at their job, only 2.2% managed to transfer away from their harasser, while 30% reported continuing harassment.
Israeli law states that every workplace needs to designate a person to be approached in case of a complaint, but the survey shows only 7.6% of the cases were brought to that person’s attention, while almost 60% of those harassed didn’t know whom to approach.
Some of the numbers in the survey are an improvement when compared to the previous survey, carried out in June 2010. The overall number of women harassed dropped, fewer women felt the need to leave the workplace and more felt that they had someone to turn to.
Simhon said he was happy with the improvement, but stressed the need for employers to uphold laws and regulations in order to prevent harassment, in addition to treating harassment cases with all severity.
Recent reports regarding alleged sexual harassment within the prime ministers office, have made Monday’s long planned conference seem more relevant than before.
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