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Rampant sexual harassment inflicts a blow to United Nations

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According to United Nation’s own survey carried out by Deloitte, one in three UN workers was sexually harassed in the preceding two years, and only one in three took action afterwards. The disturbing findings are a blow to the organisation, which is founded on equality, dignity and human rights.

More than half of those who experienced sexual harassment at the UN said it happened in an office environment, while 17.1% said it took place at a work-related social event.

21.7% were told inappropriate sexual stories or jokes, and 14.2% received offensive comments about their appearance, body or sexual activities. 13% were involuntarily drawn into sexual discussions that made them feel uncomfortable.

Around a tenth of the respondents were touched inappropriately.

Regarding the harassers, two out of three were male. More than half were colleagues, and about 12% of the harassers were in senior positions, while about 8% were outsiders such as diplomats and donors.

Just 30,364 staff and contractors completed the survey in November 2018.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the result, and the “moderately low” response rate, is a sign that they “still have a long way to go”. The findings were shared to UN employees on Monday in letters.

Guterres said the relatively low number of participants in the survey could be a sign of an “ongoing sense of mistrust, perceptions of inaction and lack of accountability” in the UN.

The UN has also been hit with a string of sex abuse allegations in the last few years, mainly leveled against their peacekeeping missions in African countries.

The story was first reported by BBC.

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