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More than 1 in 5 workers worldwide have experienced harassment or violence at work, survey concludes

The United Nations International Labor Organization, the Lloyd’s Register Foundation and Gallup published a survey that said more than a fifth of 74,364 respondents in dozens of countries reported experience of workplace violence or harassment. (iStock)

More than 1 in 5 workers have experienced violence or harassment at their workplace, according to a global survey released this week.

The risk of workplace violence or harassment was greater if the worker was younger, if the worker was a migrant and if the worker was not self-employed, according to the survey conducted in 2021 from the United Nations International Labor Organization, the London-based Lloyd’s Register Foundation and Gallup. Overall, a slightly higher percentage of women experienced violence or harassment than men, the poll showed. But young women were twice as likely as young men to suffer sexual violence and harassment.

The survey of 74,364 people age 15 or older and employed at the time of their interviews was conducted across 121 countries. It found that 23 percent of them had experience with physical, psychological or sexual violence or harassment at work, higher among younger workers than older workers.

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The poll placed workplace violence and harassment into three categories: physical, psychological and sexual.

Sexual violence or harassment included unwanted sexual touching, comments, pictures, emails or sexual requests. Worldwide, 6 percent of workers reported sexual violence or harassment at work.

More women (8 percent) than men (5 percent) reported sexual violence or harassment at work, the largest difference among the three forms of violence and harassment the survey measured.

Twelve percent of workers in the Americas, including 18 percent of women, experienced sexual violence or harassment at work.

Physical violence or harassment was defined in the survey as hitting, restraining or spitting. Worldwide, 9 percent of workers reported such violence. Geographically, Africa registered the highest prevalence of such violence with 13 percent saying they had experienced this kind of treatment. Globally, more men faced such workplace violence than women (9 percent vs. 7 percent).

Psychological violence or harassment was defined as experiencing insults, threats, bullying or intimidation at work. Globally, 18 percent of workers have encountered such behavior, the survey found. Women reported such violence and harassment at a higher rate than men (19 percent vs. 17 percent). Nearly 3 in 10 workers in the Americas (29 percent) reported such treatment, outpacing all other geographic regions.

The International Labor Organization, Lloyd’s Register Foundation and Gallup Violence and Harassment at Work survey was conducted as part of the 2021 Gallup World Poll through face-to-face interviews and telephone interviews of 74,364 individuals in 121 countries who were employed at the time of their interviews.

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