The reports surrounding sexual harassment at the workplace in Malta are low. These one-off cases which are being reported may be hiding a reality which is tainted with abuse. When one investigates why there are such low numbers of people reporting cases of sexual harassment, women’s rights’ experts say that there is a fear of revealing this abuse. This stems from our cultural background, according to such experts.
Experts state that sexual harassment at the workplace is rampant. Many have accepted it as normal and as something that one will encounter every now and again. With four cases being reported in the past four years, one immediately suspects that most are not being brought to the attention of competent authorities.
A survey which took place in 2014 revealed that twenty percent of women were victims of sexual harassment. Only a surprising eight percent reported these to either the police or the company. It is believed that many of the victims of sexual harassment are afraid to report.
The notion of sexual harassment has gained speed on an international level, as many accusations have been made. Many popular individuals in the film industry including Kevin Spacey and James Toback have been accused with sexual harassment claims.
Men of a certain stature around the world have had their reputations tarnished due to these accusations, including those in the political sphere. Scandals led to the resignations of prominent figures in politics including Sir Michael Fallon and Charles Pincher. Locally, Malta has had its own scandal surrounding a former chief nurse at Mater Dei hospital, who had sent explicit messages to one of his staff members in 2015.
An international survey carried out in 2014, by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights shed light on the fact that over thirty percent of participants within European Union member states experienced sexual harassment throughout the course of their employment. Such harassment took place through colleagues, supervisors and clients.
Most respondents indicated that such episodes of harassment were kept private, without having them reported to anyone. Many would only report such cases when significant anxiety has developed, impacting life and performance at work.
One must also keep in mind that not only women experience sexual harassment. In certain instances, men do too but the majority does not report this. One of the reasons for this may be associated with gender stereotypes, where men are allowed less leeway to maintain a status as victims of sexual harassment.
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