Sexual harassment in Finnish Parliament

womenA new survey has revealed that some Finnish parliamentary employees are subjected to suggestive comments and lewd behaviour at work.

The report, which focuses on the implementation of gender equality in the Finnish government, found six percent of staff claimed they had received unwelcome gestures and improper remarks from their colleagues.

In total, 350 parliamentary workers responded to the survey, around half of the overall workforce. Four percent of civil servants claimed they have been the victim of sexual harassment, with this figure rising dramatically to 13 percent among personal aides to Members of Parliament. The most common sources of harassment were reported to be annoying gestures or verbal comments.

“Suggestive comments, raunchy jokes, and looks. Nothing terribly serious, but things that are inappropriate at work in any case,” said one female respondent. Another wrote: “There have been comments on personal appearance, the length, or tightness of my dress (even though I use quite normal working clothes). There have been suggestions that I got the job because of appearance and gender.”

As with a similar survey in 2008, the findings have provoked a furore, reports Helsingin Sanomat. “Six percent is too much. It should be zero percent, full stop,” said Tarja Filatov, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, who added that a zero tolerance policy to sexual harassment is employed by the government.