Through the media and contact with training institutes, the Swedish Transport Agency has noted a number of cases in which women maritime students have been harassed. The Transport Agency has responsibility for supervision of the work environment on board ships. An integral part of the supervisory authority’s responsibility is to prevent and react to infringements within the area of supervision. (Government bill 2000/01:139 p. 123). Harassment is unacceptable from all perspectives. It refers to inappropriate and unwelcome behaviour, regardless of whether it is deliberate or not, which causes a feeling of discomfort, humiliation, fear or worry for the person exposed to such treatment. It is not always individuals who insult, harass or discriminate against others. In some cases the structure and tradition in organisations allow and sometimes even encourage such behaviour. Sexual harassment, including undertones, is a clear form of power abuse that can affect both men and women. Examples of sexual harassment include nudity, sexual advances such as looks, gestures or jokes and unwelcome physical contact. It is a very reasonable guideline to prosecute for serious sexual harassment or different forms of sexual violence. The victim’s feeling of vulnerability is always true, but what constitutes harassment, discrimination or offensive behaviour is regulated by law.
Apart from bullying, a crucial problem is that in many cases, those who harass other people do it unwittingly. Nevertheless such behaviour is categorised as offensive. That is why it is an important step, above all in rather hidebound professions, to increase everybody’s awareness of harassment and bullying.
The European Community’ Association and the European Transport Workers’ Federation have produced a comprehensive training package with an information video, guidelines and a workbook with the aim of addressing the problems of harassment and bullying.
Additional information in other languages is available on the European Transport Workers Federation website:
Swedish documents on the subject Work Environment Authority AFS 1993:17 – Offensive discrimination in working life
Discrimination Act (2008:567) with amendments 01/01/2015.