Some 165,000 women, 11.4 percent of all working women, were sexually harassed at their workplace in 2011, a new study reveals.
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More than a fifth (21.6 percent ) of those harassed reported that their productivity at work had decreased as a result, and 9.3 percent had either quit their jobs or been fired.
The study, conducted by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry's Research and Economics Administration, was based on an Internet survey of some 1,000 women and a phone survey of more than 2,000 women who worked at least a month during the year.
The data are to be presented today at a ministry-sponsored workshop on sexual harassment in the workplace.
Those women who reported that their productivity had decreased due to harassment estimated that drop at an average of 31 percent. Five percent of harassed women reported taking time off work because of the harassment.
Some 73 percent of those reporting sexual harassment earn less than NIS 10,000 a month, and almost all are salaried workers, indicating that victims of sexual harassment tend to be mid-level workers or lower, rather than at management level.
According to the survey, 35 percent of the harassed women reported that their direct superior was the one harassing them, while 26 percent said their harasser was not their direct superior but was in a senior position in the workplace.
The researchers, Ronit Harris and Osnat Fichtelberg-Barmatz, say this puts many victims of sexual harassment in a bind.
"In instances where the harassed women need to work for financial reasons, or simply like their work, they hesitate to confront the harasser," they wrote. "They are in a state of emotional distress and there's no doubt it has an influence on their productivity and their health."
The study showed that, despite being harassed, 77 percent of the women were still working in the same place and in the same position, with 30 percent saying the harassment was continuing. Only 2.2 percent were able to obtain a transfer away from their harasser.
Nearly 60 percent of the women said they did not know whom in their organization to turn to if they suffered sexual harassment. Of those harassed, only 7.6 percent reported it to the responsible person.
Following publication of the data, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon said the ministry would reemphasize the need to enforce the law.