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The numbers on workplace harassment in Italy are alarming

And the majority of the victims are women

The numbers on workplace harassment in Italy are alarming And the majority of the victims are women

The Italian job market is not great overall, particularly for women and minorities. Women in Italy earn less than men and are fired when pregnant or if they are transgender. Young mothers receive little support, regardless of their job sector or location in Italy. There are very low percentages of women in managerial positions and prominent roles in research and universities, heading departments. Even after finding and maintaining a job, various inappropriate behaviors persist, from mobbing to sexual harassment, stemming from a specific power system that makes us feel uncomfortable, marginalized, objectified, and ready to resign at any moment.

Data on Workplace Harassment in Italy

On July 1st, Istat released a report covering the period from 2022 to 2023. The collected data is disheartening, indicating that 13.5% of women aged 15 to 70 who work or have worked have experienced workplace sexual harassment at some point in their lives. Young women, particularly those aged 15-24, are more affected, with a rate of 21.2%. Workplace harassment encompasses various behaviors that make individuals uncomfortable and are sexually motivated, from offensive looks to indecent proposals, erotic jokes, and even physical harassment. Women also experience harassment outside the workplace, with 6.4% reporting incidents in the same reference period, compared to 2.7% of men aged 14 to 70. More than half of these incidents involve technology use (messages, emails, chats, or social media). The main perpetrators are male colleagues or professional figures like clients, patients, or students, accounting for 26.2% of cases.

Men Also Experience Harassment

Men also experience harassment, primarily from female colleagues (26.4% of cases) and from male colleagues (20.6%). Harassment incidents are often not isolated cases. For women, the frequency of abuse is higher than for men. The survey measures this dimension by asking about incidents occurring in the 12 months prior to the interview. 80% of women experienced repeated harassment during this period, compared to 60% of men. 4.9% of women aged 14 to 59 were victims of verbal harassment in the three years before the interview. This was 8.2% in 2015-2016. There has been a significant decrease in stalking and exhibitionism. Physical harassment, inappropriate messages and proposals, and sharing images on social media remain stable.

Legislative Situation in Italy

The bill on "Criminal and Procedural Rules against Sexual Harassment," introduced in Parliament in 1996, remains stalled. During the last legislative session, some parliamentary groups proposed introducing a specific offense for harassment, but no conclusion was reached. In short, there is a legal vacuum, and sexually harassing behaviors do not constitute an autonomous criminal offense. This is why many people do not report such incidents. Reasons also include the perceived lack of seriousness of the episode (27.4%) and lack of trust in law enforcement or their inability to act (23.4%). Linda Laura Sabbadini confirmed this to Repubblica: "It is still terrible because women often do not report. This happens in 87.7% of cases even though the blackmail suffered is considered serious by women. And so here too, the impunity of the perpetrator prevails."

How to Report

Considering all that has been seen and said so far, the question of how to report may seem superfluous, but it is not. First and foremost, there should be a promotion of a healthy work culture, free from competition and gender biases, starting with the words used and ending with correct and never compelling attitudes, so as not to make anyone uncomfortable. If something happens, you should appeal to the Human Resources departments, to the company's regulations, and then from there go up. Awaiting specific legislation.