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Global survey: workplace violence, harassment is widespread

More than 22% of nearly 75,000 workers in 121 countries surveyed last year reported an experience
A woman holds a pro-abortion green handkerchief during a protest against gender violence in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. The movement “Ni una menos,” or Not One Less marked it’s fifth year anniversary with a protest in Plaza de Mayo during the mandatory COVID-19 lockdown, to demand a stop to femicides, the legalization of abortion, workplace equality, and more budget to protect victims, among other demands. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

The first attempt to survey the extent of violence and harassment at work around the globe has found that workplace abuse is widespread, and particularly pronounced among young people, migrants, and wage earners, especially women.

More than 22% of the nearly 75,000 workers in 121 countries surveyed last year reported having experienced at least one type of violence or harassment, according to the report released Monday by the U.N. International Labor Organization, the Lloyd’s Register Foundation and Gallup.

“Violence and harassment in the world of work is a pervasive and harmful phenomenon, with profound and costly effects ranging from severe physical and mental health consequences to lost earnings and destroyed career paths to economic losses for workplaces and societies,” the three organizations said in the 56-page report.

According to the findings, one-third of the people who experienced violence or harassment at work said they had experienced more than one form — and 6.3% said they had faced all three forms: physical, psychological, and sexual violence and harassment during their working life.

Psychological violence and harassment was the most common form, reported by both men and women, with 17.9% of workers experiencing it at some point during their employment, the report said.

Some 8.5% of those surveyed said they experienced physical violence and harassment at work, with men more likely than women, the report said, and some 6.3% experienced sexual violence and harassment, 8.2% of them women and 5% of them men.

More than 60% of the victims of violence and harassment at work “said it has happened to them multiple times, and for the majority of them, the last incident took place within the last five years,” according to the report.

The research also found that people who experienced discrimination at some point in their life based on gender, disability status, nationality, ethnicity, skin color or religion were more likely to experience violence or harassment at work than those who didn’t face such discrimination.

The three organizations said “statistics on violence and harassment in the world of work are sporadic and scarce” so the ILO joined forces with Lloyd’s and Gallup to carry out “the first global exploratory exercise to measure people’s own experiences.” The survey used data from the 2021 Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll, which was part of the Gallup World Poll.

The results pave the way for further research, the organizations said.

“Ultimately, stronger evidence will help forge more effective legislation, policies and practices that promote prevention measures, tackle specific risk factions and root causes, and ensure that victims are not left alone in handling these unacceptable occurrences,” the ILO, Lloyd’s and Gallup said.

—Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press

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