Study reveals widespread sexual harassment in theatre

Date: Dec 20, 2017

Four out of 10 people working in the theatre industry have experienced at least one form of sexual harassment during their career, according to a damning new survey from the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA).

The most common types of misconduct were suggestive comments or lewd jokes, with 61 per cent of performers claiming they were victims of such incidents.

Nearly half had received intrusive questions about their private life, while a similar proportion said they had suffered unnecessary or unwelcome physical contact.

Victims silenced due to career fears

Unfortunately, 53 per cent of victims and 60 per cent of witnesses of bullying, sexual harassment or criminal misconduct never reported the incidents. More than one-third (36 per cent) claimed they didn’t believe anything could be done, whereas 40 per cent feared professional repercussions.

“We have taken our data to the state theatre companies to create change. Companies need effective practices in place to address sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace,” said Zoe Angus, national director of the MEAA’s Equity section.

“Our industry must have the creative elasticity to be boundary-pushing, bawdy and provocative but from a baseline of respect and consent.”

The MEAA was already in the process of compiling sexual harassment data within the theatre industry when the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in October.

The Hollywood producer currently faces dozens of allegations of misconduct ranging from sexual harassment to rape. Weinstein has also been accused of derailing the careers of women who spurned his advances.

National push for sexual harassment reform

The MEAA confirmed it will work closely with major theatre companies and freelancers to ensure more effective procedures for dealing with sexual misconduct are followed.

“A staggering 58 per cent of respondents to the survey said they were rarely or never made aware of any relevant policies or processes for dealing with these issues,” Ms Angus stated.

“And 47 per cent told us that when they did make a report, the situation was not handled well and in half those cases, it even got worse.”

In NSW, people who have experienced institutional sexual assault or similar crimes may be entitled to compensation. As the media spotlight grows on historic acts of misconduct, there is likely to be an increase in victims pursuing civil actions against their alleged perpetrators.

If you would like to discuss sexual harassment laws, or your eligibility for compensation, please contact our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.

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