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DRCC CEO Noeline Blackwell Sam Boal
harassed at work

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre proposes new ways to combat workplace sexual harassment

A survey by Dublin Rape Crisis Centre survey showed 75.7% of respondents had experienced sexual harassment in Ireland.

DUBLIN RAPE CRISIS Centre (DRCC) has published a research paper aimed at finding solutions to workplace sexual harassment in Ireland.

Included in the research paper is a survey of the experiences of survivors of sexual harassment. It revealed that out of those who had reported experiencing sexual harassment, 60 percent of them said they had been sexually harassed at work.

The survey of 940 individuals also showed that 75.7% of respondents said they had experienced sexual harassment. Of those, only 16.5% said they had reported it.

DRCC’s CEO Noeline Blackwell said: “Given the tsunami of revelations across myriad sectors, it is past time to acknowledge the valid frustrations of survivors of workplace sexual harassment.”

“With employees across all sectors now returning to the workplace, we have an opportunity – indeed a duty – to critically examine and amend the mechanisms available to survivors seeking to access justice,” she added.

The research paper included work from law firm A&L Goodbody and solicitor Máille Brady Bates. They provided a review of the existing legal frameworks regarding sexual harassment and proposed a series of reforms.

They also advised that a number of new legal mechanisms in Ireland centred on the experiences of survivors should be implemented.

Other recommendations included in the paper are the creation of an anonymous helpline to report abuse as well as offering information and advice. They also advised the use of online apps for reporting incidents of harassment, this is aimed at putting focus on employer accountability and internal investigations.

DRCC plans to develop a working group in order to discuss and test a number of the recommendations listed in the paper.

“Our survey showed most people did not report the harassment they suffered. Participants described how harassment was downplayed as “banter”, that they feared losing their job if they complained, that they would be left without a work reference,” said Blackwell.

“These workers need and deserve workplace safety. They need mechanisms that are available, accessible and effective, but which are also sensitive to the trauma caused by harassment.”

Solicitor Máille Brady Bates, a specialist in employment law said: “This research is a significant and timely contribution to the conversation regarding workplace sexual harassment.”

“It considers creative, effective and holistic means to address cultures of workplace sexual harassment and abuse; such as shifting the focus from viewing workplace sexual harassment solely as an equality issue to a health and safety matter – as has been considered in other common law jurisdictions – to allow for a more victim-centric approach to addressing this culture in the wake of the #MeToo movement,” she added.

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