Challenging Sexual Harassment and Violence
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is ‘unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them’.
It can happen to men, women and people of any gender identity or sexual orientation, and it can be carried out by anyone of the same sex, a different sex or anyone of any gender identity. See ACAS definition.
Sexual harassment is usually directed at an individual, but not always. Sometimes there can be a culture of sexual harassment in a workplace which is called ‘joking’ and ‘banter’. Sexual harassment can include:
- flirting, gesturing, or making sexual remarks about someone’s body, clothing, or appearance
- asking questions about someone’s sex life
- telling sexually offensive jokes
- making sexual comments or jokes about someone’s sexual orientation or gender reassignment
- displaying or sharing pornographic or sexual images, or other sexual content
- touching someone against their will, for example hugging them
- sexual assault or rape
Every day, people across the UK are sexually harassed at work. Our current laws put the onus on individuals to report such incidents but the TUC report that 4 out of 5 don’t feel able to tell their employer.
UCU/Ed Support Sexual Harassment Helpline
Local Points of Contact for Staff with Sexual Harassment Concerns
Two members of the local branch committee have agreed to be points of contact for staff with sexual harassment concerns. Marie Hanlon (primarily for staff in professional services) and Sue Hignett (primarily for staff in academic departments). Their contact details can be found here. Please do get in touch with either of the contacts if you have any concerns regarding sexual harassment.
Campaign for 16 days in 16 ways
From the 25th Nov until the 10th Dec UCU are contributing to a campaign run by The Centre for Women’s Global Leadership, a feminist human rights organisation. For more information please see the UCU website here. Members who wish to get involved in organising and contributing to this campaign on a local level please get in touch with the branch by clicking here.
Continuing Professional Development
We are offering members a webinar course “Challenging Sexual Harassment and Violence” at a date TBC. Our branch Equality Officer has recently completed the pilot session for this webinar and reported back “It was an excellent session lasting just under 1.5 hours”. The course aims to help you; identify what we mean by sexual harassment and violence, understand how polices can protect staff and explore how we can all challenge sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. At this point we are requesting Expressions of Interest, please click here to send an EoI to the branch.