A new survey by the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland (Tehy) has revealed that almost every third employee in the country’s health and social services sector has been a victim of sexual harassment or violence.
The survey, which included 4,023 members of Tehy, found that 30 per cent of healthcare workers have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace at some point during their career. Additionally, 19 per cent said they faced sexual harassment in the past three years, while six per cent have encountered sexual violence at work.
Healthcare workers under the age of 35 are frequently the targets of inappropriate behaviour, with 45 per cent experiencing some form of workplace harassment during their career.
According to the survey, the perpetrators are most often clients or patients—these account for 85 per cent of unwanted sexual advances in the workplace. Co-workers are responsible in 26 per cent of cases.
Inappropriate or sexually suggestive jokes, comments or gestures made up the majority of reported instances of sexual harassment. Additionally, groping (breasts or buttocks) was the most common form of sexual violence experienced by respondents.
As per the survey, sexual harassment is especially common in the social services sector, with 36 per cent of employees experiencing harassment and 9 per cent being targeted with sexual violence. Sexual harassment is also frequently experienced in the fields of psychiatry, assisted living, homecare, disability services, emergency care and rehabilitation services.
The survey included employees from the special health care (44 per cent of respondents), primary health care (30 per cent), social services (22 per cent) and early childhood education (4 per cent) sectors; 90 per cent of the respondents were women.