For people who experience sexual harassment, it is a profound event with many consequences, both personally and at work. It is not always clear to everyone which behavior is transgressive. The Human Rights Board has compiled an informative page on this subject, some of the information can be found below. You can find the page of the Human Rights Board here.
What is sexual harassment?
If someone makes sexual comments, jokes, or gestures or touches you inappropriately, we call it sexual harassment. Sexual harassment means behavior with sexual overtones that creates a threatening, hostile, offensive, humiliating or hurtful situation. Women are affected twice as often as men. Men are perpetrators more often than women.
These may include:
Verbal behavior: showing comments, jokes, emails, Apps or sexually graphic images
Non-verbal behavior: gestures or facial expressions
Physical behavior: unwanted touching
Sexual harassment can include, for example, behavior of:
- Customers, clients, patients or visitors
- Clients, collaboration partners or crew
Where can you turn if you have experienced sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment, in any form, has a big impact. To make sure it stops, it is important to tell what happened. This is not easy, but you are not alone. Do you need help or have questions?
Then you can contact contact us. You can call us, email us or file a report through our website.
Also, you can contact contact the Human Rights Board.
You can also visit here:
Your primary care physician or a psychologist
Sexual Violence Center: call or chat (anonymously) with a staff member
A confidant from your employer
Victim Support: for emotional support or assistance in the criminal process
The Legal Help Desk: for free legal advice
Are you currently in danger? Call 911 immediately.
Taking your complaint to the College
If you like, together we can take the complaint to the Human Rights Board.
Reporting a criminal offense is not the only legal route to challenge cases of sexual harassment. In Dutch equal treatment legislation, sexual harassment is considered a form of gender discrimination (Article 1a of the General Equal Treatment Act). Therefore, you can also submit your complaint to the Human Rights Board. In such a case, the College can investigate the situation, hold a hearing, and ultimately render a judgment as to whether the organization has acted in violation of equal treatment legislation. So this procedure is not about 'suing' individuals, but about the responsibility of the organization or company within which the sexual harassment took place. This is because the law requires it to ensure a safe working environment.
In determining whether there has been sexual harassment within the meaning of equal treatment law, the same (strict) rules of evidence do not apply as within criminal law. In addition, the procedure at the Antidiscrimination Agency and the Board is easily accessible and free of charge. A judgement of the Board also puts you in a stronger position if you do take your case to court. This is because there is an obligation to state reasons if the judge wants to disregard the opinion of the Board and must therefore give additional reasons why. Some 85% of the organizations take measures in response to a judgment of the Board prohibiting discrimination or a recommendation by the Board.
For more information on making a report or submitting your complaint, see here or on the website of the College for you or go directly to the complaint form. Reporting can also be done anonymously. We register your report, but not your name, whether you call or email. Anonymous reports help our work in monitoring the human rights situation in the Netherlands.
Sexual harassment at work
Sexting, sexual comments or acts perceived as unwanted; this is sexual harassment prohibited by law. Also at work. Everyone has the right to a safe workplace where sexual harassment does not occur. The employer is responsible under the law for that safe working environment and thus must protect its employees and service users from it.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a major problem - in the past 10 years, 16% of Dutch workers have experienced it. College research shows that most people who experience sexual harassment do not report it, 37% do. It is not always clear to everyone what behavior is transgressive. Sometimes people are afraid of the consequences of reporting, such as for their jobs. Increased awareness of the issue can make people feel freer to report, and perpetrators aware of transgressive behavior.
Poster for the workplace
The Human Rights Board, in cooperation with employers, has developed a poster for the workplace. It explains what sexual harassment is and where to go if you have experienced it. You can order the poster free of charge for your workplace or download the poster to read at your leisure and share with your colleagues.
Download the poster: Sexual harassment in the workplace (pdf).