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Jakarta Post

Virtual harassment rampant during work-from-home, survey finds

  • Ivany Atina Arbi
    Ivany Atina Arbi

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, June 13, 2020   /   02:29 pm
Virtual harassment rampant during work-from-home, survey finds Workers say they often receive unwanted sexual advances through virtual channels such as video teleconferences and messaging apps from colleagues and superiors while working from home. (Shutterstock/designer491)

Workers are still facing harassment from superiors and colleagues through communication platforms while working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to an online survey.

A joint survey by the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) and Never Okay Project found 86 of 315 respondents claimed they were sexually harassed while working from home and 68 said they witnessed sexual advances being made on their colleagues. Thirty respondents claimed they both experienced and witnessed such unwanted advances.

The survey was conducted from April 6 to 19 involving women, men and transgender workers who are permanent employees, contract workers and freelancers across the country.

Among the forms of harassment identified in the survey were being the subject of sex jokes, receiving unwanted photos, videos and audio recordings, as well as being seduced by coworkers.

Read also: Ignorance, misguided policies allow rape culture to thrive

They were made through various digital communication platforms, such as messaging apps, video conference apps and email.

The survey also revealed that 94 percent of victims chose to remain silent and not report the incidents to their human resources department. A majority believed their report would not be taken seriously or addressed, while some were afraid that reporting such cases would only put their jobs at risk.

“Our survey also found that 85 percent of companies don’t have antiharassment policy, allowing sexual abuse and harassment to persist," Never Okay Project initiator Alvin Nicola said on Friday. The project’s goal is to combat sexual harassment at workplaces.

Never Okay Project and SAFEnet urged companies to formulate strategies to crack down on sexual harassment in their work environment. They also encouraged workers to reject the “normalization of harassment” and instead push their workplaces to build antiharassment initiatives.