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New study shows a third of theatre workers have been sexually harassed

View profile for Malcolm Underhill
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Sexual harassment and bullying are “ingrained into the theatre culture” according to a new study carried out by The Stage. A poll of theatre professionals and students shows 43% have experiencing bullying and 31% have been sexually harassed while working in theatres. Nearly 8% of those polled said they had been sexually assaulted at work, including several reports of rape.

The poll recorded responses from 1,050 people with experience of working in theatres. Of those who had been harassed or bullied, 67% said they did not report it, while of those that did report the issue, 70% said they did not see anything being done about it.

The Stage reports that the research was prompted by the recent “wave of allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment and abuse in the wider entertainment industry”. This includes the high profile accusations made against Kevin Spacey, who is being investigated by the Metropolitan police over three reports of sexual assault that are alleged to have occurred during his time as artistic director of the Old Vic.

The report also comes in the wake of revelations about sexual harassment and assault alleged to have taken place at the all-male Presidents Club charity gala. The occasion, promoted as “the most un-PC event of the year” involved dozens of young women employed as “hostesses” and instructed to dress provocatively, many of who were reportedly subjected to groping and sexual harassment. This behaviour was exposed by a journalist from the Financial Times working undercover at the event.

With a growing number of reports of sexual harassment and assault in the entertainment industry coming to light as part of the #MeToo campaign, the figures from The Stage suggest the problem is widespread and affecting people at every level in the industry.

The poll results show that sexual harassment was more common in those under 35, while bullying was more common in respondents over 35. Backstage professionals were those most likely to experience sexual harassment while 68% of disabled people said they had been bullied at work. 36% of students responding to the poll reported having been bullied, while a fifth had been sexually harassed.

The problem also appears to be widespread in society as a whole. A recent YouGov survey showed that 52% of women aged 18-24 say they have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, while among women of all ages the figure is 24%. This again suggests that the problem is much more common amongst younger women. The survey also revealed that 38% of 18-24 year old women had experienced “inappropriate touching” at work.

The increased prominence of sexual harassment and assault in the public eye in recent months has resulted in calls for the law to be strengthened to tackle the issue. Suggested proposals include better recording of sexual harassment claims and making street harassment illegal, as it is in countries like Belgium and Portugal.

If you have experienced sexual harassment or assault in the workplace, IBB Claims' sexual abuse lawyers offer sensitive but practical support to help you take action. We can advise you on the strength of your case and your legal options so you can seek justice and secure financial compensation where appropriate.

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You should ring 0333 123 9099 today, for a free and confidential conversation. Alternatively please email or complete the online form. Please be assured, that we will treat the issue sensitively and not ask you any detail about the abuse.  We only need to have a general indication of what happened to you, to advise if we can assist.

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