Sexual harassment still 'a serious problem' at Australian workplaces

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Melbourne, Nov 3 : One in five Aussie women has been sexually harassed at work, a new survey by the country's Human Rights Commission has found.

According to the survey, many others have endured unwelcome touching or offensive jokes in the office, but don't think of it as harassment.

The survey also revealed that five per cent of men have confronted sexual harassment on the job.

The new findings are better from the results of a similar poll five years ago, when 28 per cent of women and 7 per cent of men said they were sexually harassed at work.

However, Australia's Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said that this year's survey also revealed a disturbing lack of understanding about what defined workplace sexual harassment.

Among those who said they had not experienced sexual harassment at work, 22 per cent went on to describe incidents such as inappropriate physical contact, unwelcome suggestive jokes and comments or intrusive questions about their private life.

"They are describing behaviour that is actually harassment," the Courier Mail quoted Broderick, as saying.

"I suppose the key message is that sexual harassment is still a serious problem in Australian workplaces," she added.

The survey also found a sharp drop in the number of sexual harassment victims who reported the offence to authorities.

In this year's survey, only 16 per cent of those sexually harassed at work in the past five years had made a complaint, down from 32 per cent in the 2003 survey.

Broderick said that many women were afraid of a negative outcome if they made a complaint.

The Human Rights Commission has called on the Federal Government to extend the scope of sex discrimination laws to cover students and also workers who are sexually harassed by their customers or clients.

ANI

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