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Sex blackmail goes unreported in offices

Last Updated: Thursday, September 16, 2010 - 12:29

Los Angeles: About one in 17 women have faced sexual blackmail at work in Italy, but the coercion is largely unreported due to fear, embarrassment, or a lack of faith in authorities, a survey showed on Wednesday.

Demands for sexual favours in return for gaining or retaining a job in Italy are experienced most frequently by female office workers, but also by women in a range of professions from doctors to archaeologists, according to a report by Italian official statistics institute ISTAT.

"Almost none of the victims reported the episode to authorities," ISTAT said in the survey of about 24,000 women.

Some of the most common reasons for not reporting the blackmail included a lack of faith that authorities would be able to act upon the complaint or because the victim turned to family members for help.

Other reasons were fear of being judged or treated badly, embarrassment or guilt, fear of the consequences for oneself or one`s family or a sense that it only happened once so was not so serious.

Almost 60 percent of the women who said they experienced sexual blackmail at work said they changed jobs or gave up their career as a result, the survey showed.

The ISTAT report also found that overall, every second woman in Italy has faced some sort of sexual harassment or sexual blackmail in her life, including verbal or physical abuse and stalking.

A joint Reuters/Ipsos global poll last month found that one in 10 workers have been pestered for sex by a senior employer, as experts warned that sexual harassment seemed to be on the rise in the workplace with some high profile cases reported recently.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, September 16, 2010 - 12:29
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