United tions, Jan 19: The cases of sexual harassment and assault are rife in the UN offices around the world, with offenders enjoying impunity in a culture of flawed grievance system, a media report said on Friday. Of the employees interviewed, 15 said they had experienced or reported sexual harassment or assault within the past five years, and alleged offences ranged from verbal harassment to rape, The Guardian reported.
The UN employees said there was a culture of silence across the organisation and a flawed grievance system that is stacked against victims. The employees said only a few women, who were sexually harassed or assaulted, had formally reported to the grievance cell, but most of the victims do not report for the fear of losing their jobs. There is also a belief that even if they report, no action will be taken. Though the UN Secretary General António Guterres has “prioritised addressing sexual harassment and upholding the zero tolerance policy”, the organisation conceded that under-reporting is still a concern they are dealing with.
The report talked to several employees working in more than 10 countries and found that three women who had reported sexual harassment or sexual assault had been forced to quit or threatened with termition of their contracts, while the accused, including a senior UN official, continued to remain in their posts. She said that despite medical evidence and witness testimonies, an interl investigation by the UN found insufficient evidence to support her allegation. “Along with my job, I lost my visa and spent months in hospital due to stress and trauma,” she said. (IANS)