A record number of men are making formal complaints about sexual harassment at work according to data from the South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission.
According to report by Rebecca DiGriolamo in the The Advertiser (Adelaide), nearly 1 in 2 complaints of sexual harassment accepted by the commission in 2017/2018 were made by men.
Sexual harassment against men at work is more common than most people think. Research by the Australian Human Rights Commission has found that 23% of women and 16% of men experienced sexual harassment at work in Australia in 2018.
In the run up to International Women’s Day last week, the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA) published a list of 8 common myths about workplace sexual harassment. One of these myths is the belief that sexual harassment only happens to straight women, when in reality it happens to people of all genders and sexual orientations, including straight men and males who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex.
In 2017/2018, 14 of the 30 complaints of sexual harassment at work received by the South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission, were made by men. This equates nearly one in two complaints accepted (47%).
Responding to the story, the South Australia Commissioner for Equal Opportunity, Dr Niki Vincent, is reported as saying:
“Certainly over the last three years … we have seen an increase in the number of men making complaints of sexual harassment in employment to the Equal Opportunity Commission.
“The increase in complaints may indicate that both men and women are now feeling like they can speak up about these issues and are more aware of their rights under law.”
Meanwhile, DCA’s CEO, Lisa Annese said that sexual harassment wasn’t a joke, for men or for women.
“As Australians, our instinct often is to play it down,” she said. To say ‘Oh come on it's just a laugh here and there’. But it’s only a joke if it’s not at someone else’s expense. We know from research that off-colour jokes are one of the most common forms of harassment for men and women. And that’s having a big impact on people’s livelihoods and workplace productivity. In 2019, enough is enough.”
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