Know the Line public awareness campaign against Sexual Harassment At Work

PRESS RELEASE November 2020

Know the Line have campaigned against sexual harassment in public places for 3 years. Working with a range of partners we have raised awareness through a range of media and provided information via a dedicated website on help and support available.

Our campaign aims to:

– tackle sexual harassment at its root

– signpost women and girls to local support

– challenge perpetrators – mainly men and boys

– empower bystanders to intervene safely

We are now keen to work with partners to broaden the scope of the campaign to include Sexual Harassment At Work [SHAW].

We believe that treating sexual banter and groping as normal, and ‘just a joke’, can lead on to more serious sexual assault and rape.

We are launching this next phase of the campaign on Wednesday 25 November, the International Day to End Violence Against Women.

Recent research by the TUC ‘Still Just a Bit of Banter’ highlights the extent of sexual harassment at work, particularly for women in insecure and low paid roles in the hospitality trade. They found:

  • 52% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment
  • 35% of women have heard comments of a sexual nature being made about other women in the workplace.
  • 32% have been subject to unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature
  • Nearly 25% of women have experienced unwanted touching

We recognise that the Covid pandemic has had a huge impact on the hospitality trade with many pubs, bars and restaurants being forced to shut down. We all want to be able to go out and socialise again with family and friends, enjoying a drink and a meal together.

And we also want to improve the working life of everyone who works in those venues.

We want to change the conversation about sexual harassment at work, to make clear that it’s not acceptable, whether it comes from your boss, your colleagues, a client or a customer.

Women must be able to go to work without the fear that they will lose hours, or miss out on a promotion, if they complain about sexual harassment.

That’s why we are starting a new phase of our campaign:

  • To raise awareness that SHAW is not acceptable and is against the law
  • To provide information and signpost people affected by SHAW
  • To campaign for a ‘new normal’ at work, to create a safe, harassment-free working environment for everyone, especially younger women.

In Phase 1 we have worked with partners to:

  • develop a new campaign postcard with information about SHAW and what to do about it [see attached and downloadable from our website: http://www.knowtheline.org
  • Create a list of organisations that can offer help and support – simply scan the QR code on the postcards to access
  • ●     Launch a social media campaign to change the conversation – follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram:

Twitter: @knowthelineSY  |  Facebook: @knowthelineSY  |  Instagram: @knowtheline_

In Phase 2 we want to link with employers, particularly in the hospitality trade, to support and motivate them to put in place a policy and procedure to tackle sexual harassment in their venues.

Help us to make a great night out even better for everyone involved.

KTL has always been a South Yorkshire campaign, launching first in Sheffield in 2017, then Rotherham in 2019, and launching in Barnsley November 2020.

The group has forged links with a range of partners, for example establishing KTL as a key campaign in Sheffield’s Violence Against Women & Girls Action Plan with Sheffield City Council.

Our partners in this sexual harassment at work campaign say:

Paul Blomfield MP said:

“Women should not have to face harassment in the workplace. I’ve heard some shocking experiences, particularly from young women working in bars and restaurants. Nobody should accept it or pretend it’s not a problem. I hope that businesses will sign up to this great campaign and commit themselves to zero tolerance of sexual harassment from staff or customers.”

Sheffield Trades Union Council

Sheffield TUC is supporting this brand new campaign to stamp out sexual harassment at work in Sheffield. Martin Mayer, Secretary of STUC said: ‘The best protection comes from joining a trade union which can hold employers to account and ensure guilty managers and co-workers can be held to account. We have to change the culture and that’s what this campaign is intended to do’.

Vida Sheffield

Maureen Storey, Vida Director, said:

Everyone has the right to feel safe. Sexual harassment shouldn’t be a ‘normal’ part of daily life for women and girls – we encourage them to report incidents as hate crimes, because they can escalate into sexual assault and rape. In Vida’s therapy services we are constantly supporting women to recover from experiences of abuse and build their resilience – we need to bring the culture change that will stop that abuse happening in the first place.

Barnsley Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Services

Sarah Thompson, Trainer and Campaign Lead at BSARCS said:

We believe that everyone should feel safe from harm. Tackling sexual harassment in public places is where this started, and we are now proud to support Know the Line tackling sexual harassment at work. No-one should be made to feel uncomfortable at work, and every workplace should have a robust policy and a culture free from abuse, to challenge sexual harassment and provide a space for individuals to share concerns safely, without fear of repercussions.”

White Ribbon Campaign

Anthea Sully, Chief Executive of White Ribbon UK said:

 ‘As the leading charity that works with men and boys to end violence against women we are fully behind this campaign.  We call on all men to consider their own behaviour and to act as role models among their colleagues and friends so that cultures of harassment end once and for all.  Most men are not violent or abusive and all men can make a difference. We encourage everyone, men in particular, to make the White Ribbon Promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.’

Women’s Equality Party

Charlotte Mead, branch leader for Sheffield branch of Women’s Equality Party said:

“It’s fantastic that this great campaign is extending to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace – something so many women, including myself, have experienced. Being harassed at work is particularly traumatic because the work place is somewhere that has to constantly be returned to, meaning the harassment cannot be escaped. That it is also tied to your means of earning a living, keeping a roof over your head and food on the table, means many women feel unable to challenge it, especially in the uncertain times we currently live in.

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