Sexual abuse culture needs stamping out

Sexual Abuse Culture Needs Stamping Out

Over 60% of women have gone through the experience of having a male colleague behave inappropriately towards them. 20% of these women described the unacceptable behaviour of the men as ‘persistent’.

Furthermore, we’re shocked to learn that a recent Ofsted survey has found that girls at school are being contacted by up to 11 boys asking for nude photographs every night.

Sexual Abuse in the Workplace

Jamie Brown, Partner and Head of Dispute Resolution at Wosskow Brown, stresses the importance of the employer’s role in stamping out sexual assault at work.

He said: “In fact, under the 2010 Equality Act, the employer is legally responsible for the behaviour of their employees in the workplace.”

There are some simple steps you can take if you’re experiencing sexual abuse at work. Jamie suggests you follow the steps, which involve firstly keeping a written record of what is happening and who may have witnessed the inappropriate behaviour.

If you feel comfortable, you could try complaining directly to the culprit to get them to stop. If this is unsuccessful, you can consult your employer’s policy on harassment and follow its grievance procedure.

Jamie explained: “A lawyer is able to give you expert advice on whether a claim is likely to be successful in an Employment Tribunal (specialist employment Court).”

“It’s important to be able to show to any Tribunal that you have taken the necessary steps to try and resolve things with your employer and to have retained evidence of the steps you’ve taken.”

Sometimes, harassment leads to an employee resigning, in which case it’s possible to claim constructive dismissal.  There is a specific qualifying period to bring a claim of this nature, however, you may qualify for automatic unfair dismissal which will reduce that qualifying period and I would therefore urge you to seek specialist legal advice to assess whether you have the basis of a claim.”

Sexual Abuse in Schools

Ofsted has conducted a survey into the presence of sexual abuse in schools across the country, which highlights the need for much improvement when it comes to dealing with such behaviour. The need for more education for both teachers and students regarding sexual assault is also becoming more and more clear.

The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) visited 30 state and independent schools, as well as two further education colleges, to talk to children about the presence of sexual offences.

Nearly 1,000 students took part in the survey, and an awfully shocking 80% of the girls said they have been pressured to share sexual pictures of themselves. The children also told Ofsted that sexual violence is not only happening in schools, but at other places like parties and parks, where drugs and alcohol are also involved.

Unwanted touching is another example of sexual abuse in schools, with 64% of school girls expressing that they have been touched ‘a lot’ or ‘sometimes’ without their consent.

The persistency of the boys committing sexual assaults is another problem, as girls told Ofsted ‘boys just won’t take no for an answer’ when asking for nude or semi-nude pictures. The girls in the survey explained the problem they face when trying to stop boys harassing them on social media; when they block their accounts, ‘they just create multiple accounts to harass you’.

Not only do girls get harassed frequently for explicit photos of themselves, but they also get sent such photos from boys without asking for them. 90% of girls have experienced sexist name-calling or have received unsolicited explicit images from boys.

Sexual Abuse Becoming Normalised

Looking at the scenario from a further away perspective and seeing what needs to change, you have to notice the worrying fact that a lot of this behaviour is now seen as ‘normal’.

Young girls have expressed their feelings that receiving nude images from boys without asking for them has become so normal that their automatic reaction is to just delete the message and move on. This, however, is clearly not stopping the issues girls are facing in schools, and so solid action must be taken in order to better deal with sexually abusive behaviour.

Ofsted says students have revealed that they don’t always see the point in reporting inappropriate behaviour as teachers underestimate the problems students are facing.

A BBC investigation has further emphasised Ofsted’s findings, revealing that at least 13,000 sexual offences a year were reported to police in England and Wales between under 18s in the past two years. About 1,000 of these happened on school premises.

A freedom of information request revealed that both the victim and perpetrator were aged 10 or under in about 2,000 cases. It’s truly upsetting to see that the culture of sexual assault is so present that it’s even filtering down into primary schools.

Jamie added: “Whether it be unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical sexual harassment, it is absolutely never acceptable for such conduct to occur at work, in school or anywhere for that matter. People should be able to feel safe at all times.”

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