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Fight back against sexual harassment


Sir, The construction industry is dominated by men and is failing to attract female workers - especially to the site. It is not just the work environment, job insecurity and bad facilities that are causing this. Sexual harassment is compounding matters.

I told a close friend that I had been sexually harassed while working on a construction site and she had had a similar, more serious experience.

The worst thing is we were harassed by a senior member of the company.This incident had a serious impact on my friend's state of mind. Even though it has been a while since the last incident, she still cannot forget being molested. She has to cope with the fear and pressure of working with him. She is trying to avoid any contact with him.

I am sure we are not the only women in the construction industry to suffer this.

Instead of keeping silent, we wrote this letter.Harassers should be prevented from laying their hands on other women in the future.

There should be confidential support for victims of sexual harassment to prevent incidents becoming site gossip.We feel ashamed of it even though it is not our fault.

What are our rights when we are facing sexual harassment? Where can we get help? My friend and I did not know what to do because we were shocked and frightened.What is the procedure? How can we prevent it? Is there any remedy or action that can be undertaken while protecting the victim's name?

The problem is, although there is a company harassment policy, most of us prefer not to report it as this will make the company think we are troublemakers.

We are also worried the incident will become common knowledge and we will feel embarrassed.

Firms should include warnings about sexual harassment during the site induction to remind the staff of its effects and make them aware it is unacceptable.

We should also campaign to raise awareness in the industry about such harassment and to organise advice for women facing a similar situation.

We hope someone within the industry will look into this seriously to safeguard women's rights.

Name and address withheld nFor help and advice on sexual harassment call the Equal Opportunities Commission on 0845 601 5901 or visit www. eoc. org. uk/harassment.