The South China Morning Post has reported that 19% of female workers in Hong Kong claim to have been sexually harassed at work, with most of the victims employed in low-end retail, catering, and health care jobs. 21% of the victims were aged 51 to 60. 30% did not complain or take any action against the harasser.
As to the harassers, 39% were co-workers, 28% were customers, and the balance were employees senior or junior to the victims.
A spokesperson for the Confederation of Trade Unions said that “Their boss often tells them that the customers are always right and it is their duty to serve them, no matter what. So the staff members have to tolerate such behaviour and many of these cases go unreported.”
Harassment As An Abuse Of Power
Last month we reported that there were allegations of sexual harassment reaching into the highest levels of the UK government which prompted a local London TV channel to conduct interviews with people who work at Westminster. The result was a bit of a shock – apparently one third of the interviewees had “personally experienced sexual harassment which they saw as an abuse of power,” while less than half “had no first or second-hand knowledge of such behaviour.” One woman said: “When I was there, older men would explore their sexuality and be predatory to younger men.”
We blogged that with the workers in the UK “It should come as no surprise that victims of harassment are more often of relatively low status and power in the workplace. As with people victimized throughout society, they are more often the victims of this ‘power differential.’”
The same appears to hold true with Hong Kong workers — the lower the job status, the more likely the harassment. Unfortunately the same appears to hold true around the world.