Sexual harassment on the rise in Australia

Date: Nov 15, 2017

A growing number of people in Australia are reporting that they have been sexually harassed.

Seventeen per cent of women and 9.3 per cent of men claimed to have been victims at some point in the previous 12 months last year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) latest Personal Safety Survey (PSS).

The figures for both sexes were higher in the 2016 poll than in the 2012 edition, when 15 and 6.6 per cent of females and males, respectively, said they had been harassed.

Hollywood rocked by sexual harassment scandals

The ABS data comes at a time when the media spotlight is firmly focused on the issue of harassment in Hollywood, following accusations of predatory behaviour against a slew of directors, actors and producers.

Harvey Weinstein is facing allegations of rape, sexual assault and harassment, while House of Cards star Kevin Spacey and comedian Louis CK are among the latest stars to become embroiled in misconduct scandals.

In Australia, sexual harassment had already become a trending topic before the Hollywood coverage, following investigations into assaults on university campuses.

While news that sexual harassment reports are on the rise in Australia may be disappointing, the results don’t necessarily mean more incidents are occurring. People may simply be more confident about coming forward about their experiences.

The frequency of sexual harassment in Australia

Michelle Marquardt, program manager for household surveys, highlighted the key takeaways from the PSS.

“The survey found that more than one in two women (53 per cent or 5 million) and one in four men (25 per cent or 2.2 million) responded they had experienced some form of sexual harassment during their lifetime,” she said.

“In 2016 alone, one in six women (17 per cent or 1.6 million) and one in 11 men (9 per cent or 836,700) experienced sexual harassment.”

According to Ms Marquardt, women aged between 18 and 24 years old report the highest levels of sexual harassment. Nearly 40 per cent of respondents within this demographic claimed they had been harassed within the last year.

What are the most common forms of harassment?

Both men and women are more likely to suffer harassment at the hands of a male perpetrator. The most common forms of harassment were:

  • Inappropriate comments about their body or sex life (61 per cent of women reported this and 41 per cent of men);
  • Unwanted grabbing, touching, kissing or fondling (57 per cent of women and 42 per cent of men); and
  • Indecent exposure (42 per cent of women and 26 per cent of men).

In NSW, anyone who suffers institutional sexual assault or harassment may be eligible for compensation.

Please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for professional legal advice on how to begin making a claim.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.