Socialist Worker

No place for sexism

Issue No. 2305

A survey of 3,400 women working in Britain has found that half of them experienced sexual harassment at work—including offensive sexist remarks and being made the butt of chauvinist jokes.

The survey also revealed the extent of physical abuse faced by women at work. Four in ten said they had been touched in a way that made them feel uncomfortable, while 27 percent had been kissed against their will.

Only one in five women reported the abuse. Over half said they were worried about whether people would believe them. Some 29 percent feared they would be penalised for reporting a colleague or boss.

These shocking results show how deep sexism runs within society—and how women who experience sexual harassment are pressurised to keep quiet about it. The high rate of unemployment adds to the pressure to keep heads down. People fear losing their jobs if they stand up to sexism.

The women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s made huge leaps forward for women’s rights. It went hand in hand with an influx of women into the workforce.

But inequality continues. Women in the European Union are paid on average 17 percent less than men. The oppression of women is rooted in class society and works in the interests of bosses. Sexual harassment is one aspect of that—and one that workers need to organise against.

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What We Think
Tue 29 May 2012, 18:45 BST
Issue No. 2305
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