Jan 16, 2019

One third of UN staff and contractors experienced sexual harassment in the past two years, according to a report released by the United Nations.

The online survey, carried out by Deloitte in November, was completed by 30,364 people from the UN and its agencies – just 17% of those eligible. In a letter to staff, secretary general Antonio Guterres described the response rate as “moderately low”.

“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.”
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The survey comes amid the wider MeToo movement around the world against sexual harassment and assault.

According to the report, 21.7% of respondents said they were subjected to sexual stories or offensive jokes, 14.2% received offensive remarks about their appearance, body or sexual activities and 13% were targeted by unwelcome attempts to draw them into a discussion on sexual matters.

10.9% said they were subjected to gestures or use of body language of a sexual nature, which embarrassed or offended them, and 10.1% were touched in ways that made them feel uncomfortable.

More than half of those who experienced sexual harassment said it happened in an office environment, while 17.1% said it happened at a work-related social event. Two out of three harassers were male, according to the survey.

Only one in three people said they took action after experiencing sexual harassment.