One-third of UN workers say sexually harassed in past two years

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One-third of U.N. staff and contractors experienced sexual harassment in the past two years, according to a report released by the United Nations on January 15, 2019.

The online surveys were carried out by Deloitte in November 2018 and 30,364 workers from the United Nations completed the survey. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the response rate as “moderately low” in a letter to staff.

“This tells me two things: first – that we still have a long way to go before we are able to fully and openly discuss sexual harassment; and second – that there may also be an ongoing sense of mistrust, perceptions of inaction and lack of accountability,” he wrote.

According to the report, the respondents said they were subjected to sexual stories or offensive jokes, offensive remarks about their appearance, body or sexual activities and were targeted by unwelcome attempts to draw them into a discussion on sexual matters. The report also found that only in three people said they took action after experiencing sexual harassment.

The report comes at the time world is witnessing a wider “Me Too” movement around the world against sexual harassment and sexual assault. It is part of UN efforts to increase transparency and strengthen how it deals with such accusations after a string of sexual exploitation and abuse accusations against the world body’s peacekeepers in Africa.

Guterres said the report contained “some sobering statistics and evidence of what needs to change to make a harassment-free workplace real for all of us.”

“As an organisation founded on equality, dignity and human rights, we must lead by example and set the standard,” he said.

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