Harassment survey: 'I'm a waitress but I feel like a sex worker'

Two in five UK women say they have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour at work, a BBC survey finds.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
These young women told the BBC about their experiences of sexual harassment at work

Nilufer Guler is a waitress, but says she feels more like a sex worker at times.

On the second day in a new job, a table of wealthy, suited men said they would "buy her" off her manager so she could eat expensive steak with them.

They asked if she had an intimate piercing and stared at her throughout their meal.

"It's so disrespectful but I couldn't complain. It's a very precarious industry," she says.

And she's not alone.

Two in five women in the UK say they have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour at work and only a quarter of them reported it, a BBC survey has found.

Among men, one in five (18%) said they have been harassed at work.

The poll of more than 6,000 men and women, one of the largest ever conducted into sexual harassment in the workplace, suggested those who work flexibly are more likely to encounter this type of behaviour.

Of those in flexible working - including those on zero hours contracts, self employed, freelancers and gig economy workers - 43% had experienced some form of sexual harassment at work.

It's a situation Camille Ukpanah from London can relate to.

The 24-year-old worked as a bartender and waitress for an agency. She says guests would make derogatory remarks towards her and her colleagues, and she once saw a man trying to pull up her colleague's skirt in a room full of people.

"The girl had to keep working otherwise she wouldn't have got paid," she says.

When she went to the agency, she says she was met with a cold response.

"You explain certain things that happen but they brush it over. They would say 'if you want to leave, you can go - there are so many people looking for work.'"

Those taking part in the survey were asked about the most common behaviours they had faced, ranging from unwelcome jokes to pornography and rape.

The public spotlight has been focused on sexual harassment since October when Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein was first accused of harassment and assault.

The story snowballed as A-listers Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Cara Delevingne added their names to a long list of women claiming Weinstein had preyed on them.

The scandal deepened as men and women shared their own experiences at the hands of powerful men in Hollywood, on TV and beyond, culminating in the #metoo Twitter campaign, which saw people across the world tell their stories.

For those who have spent decades in the workplace, the whole idea of sexual harassment at work is relatively new, but one that has prompted reflection.

Those polled were asked if they agreed that: "Looking back over my working life, I have witnessed behaviour that I now believe to constitute sexual harassment but didn't think it at the time."

Four in 10 (42%) over-55s agreed. Among those near the start of their working lives (18 to 34-year-olds), three in 10 felt the same way.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Sandy tells the BBC how a surgeon would put his hands up nurses' skirts

Meg, who did not want to give her surname, said she believed change was already under way, as people had begun to talk about things as "unacceptable".

"A few years ago, it was just like 'oh, he's just a dirty old man and that's what happens'".

Her friend, Maureen, agreed. "It sounds shocking but we didn't use the term assault, we were molested.

"You were molested in transport, in pubs, in social gatherings. It was normal."

There was a general optimism among most people surveyed that the recent scandal would bring sustained improvements in behaviour, but almost a third thought the scandals were irrelevant to people's behaviour.

Confidence that things would change was highest among younger people - three quarters of 18 to 34-year-olds expected to see long-term changes in behaviour, while about a third of over-65s had their doubts.

Office worker Honey Jamie said: "It is fantastic that so many strong women are now banding together. And they refuse to accept it.

"It's great that so many people are standing up against it, but it's sad that we still have to," she said.




Date: 11 December 2017 | Source: BBC

More UK News

Bait out: Kent schoolgirl the victim of online group

The teenage victim of an online "bait out" group tells of her humiliation

Hidden hoard of 250,000 toy soldiers to be auctioned

The "gobsmacking" collection was amassed by Carmelo Mazzotta, who had dreams of being a soldier

Elbow's Guy Garvey to be songwriting professor

The Elbow frontman is to join Manchester Metropolitan University as a visiting professor

Mo Gilligan: From folding jeans to viral comedy videos

"Get a couple of cans in, Julie.

Windrush: Who exactly was on board?

The Empire Windrush ship arrived in England on 21 June 1948 carrying hundreds of passengers from the..

Newspaper headlines: Wembley 'fury' and Trump's 'London ban'

The potential sale of Wembley Stadium and US president Donald Trump's planned UK visit lead the fron..
View More

More Telford News

 Big rise in West Mercia child grooming cases

Child grooming offences have risen sharply, new figures from West Mercia P..

 Carpetright to close Telford store

Retailer Carpetright has won the backing of creditors and landlords for a ..

 Firefighters free girl stuck in climbing frame at Telford school

Firefighters had to free a girl after her leg became stuck in a wooden cli..

 Jobs fears as Poundworld to close up to 100 stores

Discount chain Poundworld is pursuing a restructuring plan that could see ..

 Witnesses sought after man causes woman alarm in Telford

Police are appealing for witnesses after a man approached a woman causing h..

 Badger discovered tortured and dumped on side of M54

A badger has been found tortured and dumped in a refuse sack at the side of..
View More

Telford Businesses

Calendar Countdown

[[countdown here]]
[[countdown here]]

Upcoming Events in Telford

08 May 2018

7:30pm


£26

View Details

26 May 2018

Farm Shop and Arthur’s Farm Kitchen: Tues – Sat 9.30am – 5.00pm and Sun 10.00am – 4.00pm

Open Bank Holiday Mondays: 10.00am – 4.00pm


Free entry Some activities and events are chargeable

View Details

10 Jun 2018

8am - 6pm


Adult - £25.00

Children under 16 - Free

View Details

14 Jul 2018

8:30am - 6pm


Adult (16 - 64) - £15

Child (5 -15) - £5.00

Senior (65+) - £14.00

Family - £35

View Details
View More