1 in 10 South Korean Women Face Sexual Harassment at the Work Place
David Lee, April 6, 2016, 3:42 p.m.
One in 10 female office workers have experienced sexual harassment at work, but only one in five of those quit their job, according to a government survey. Seven to eight out of 10 were unable to take any action and just endured the harassment.
The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family surveyed 7,844 public- and private-sector employees from August to November last year, and 9.6 percent of female respondents said they had been sexually harassed at work. Most harassment was off-color remarks or forcing women to pour alcohol in group meals or sit next to particular men.
The ritual after-hours gatherings were the occasions when sexual harassment was most likely to take place with 44.6 percent, followed by the workplace with 42.9 percent. Among men, 1.8 percent said they had been sexually harassed. The vast majority of women who were sexually harassed did not take any action with 78.5 percent, and only 0.7 percent said they took the matter through official channels either at work or outside.
Asked why they took no action, 50.6 percent said they did not think raising the issue would achieve anything, 45.5 percent said they did not think it was a big deal, and 17.7 percent said they were afraid of repercussions. A ministry official said, "The fact that many women who experienced sexual harassment did not think of it as a serious problem reflects a male-centered work culture where these things are seen as a natural part of organization culture."