According to the first national survey conducted in Singapore regarding sexual harassment, two in five workers in the country report being sexually harassed at the workplace in the past five years.
The survey by market research company Ipsos in collaboration with gender-equality organization AWARE, conducted the first-ever nationally representative survey on workplace sexual harassment in Singapore. According to its findings, when respondents were asked “Have you been sexually harassed in the workplace within the last five years?”, one in 5 responded in the affirmative. However, when specific harassment situations were described to them, 2 in 5 reported that they had experienced such behaviors—indicating a gap in understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment.
The harassment situations illustrated in the survey included:
- Pictures, jokes, texts or gestures of a sexual or sexist nature (approximately 1 in 5 reported experiencing this; approximately 1 in 10 experienced this behavior on seven separate occasions in the past five years).
- Alarming or offensive remarks or questions about their appearances, bodies or sexual activities (approximately 1 in 5 reported experiencing this; approximately 1 in 10 experienced this behavior on eight separate occasions in the past five years).
- Crude and distressing remarks, jokes or gestures of a sexual or sexist nature (approximately 1 in 5 reported experiencing this; approximately 1 in 10 experienced this behavior on five separate occasions in the past five years) .
- Unwanted physical contact, attempts to initiate romantic or sexual relationships, implications that career prospects were tied to sexual favors, and more.
The survey found that 3 in 10 survivors of workplace sexual harassment made official reports about their experiences. Those who did not often cited a desire to forget about the incidents, a belief that what they experienced was not severe enough, or a perceived lack of evidence. In 2 in 5 cases where reports were made, the harasser was reassigned or dismissed; however, in another 1 in 5 of such cases, the harasser faced no consequences despite evidence of harassment.
AWARE recommends that the Singapore government introduce national legislation against workplace harassment, as well as regular anti-harassment trainings across industries and the universal adoption of grievance handling policies.