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Report: A quarter of Singaporean women have been sexually harassed with more than half unreported

According to a survey by YouGov Omnibus, out of 1,045 respondents, 26 percent of Singaporean women have experienced sexual harassment as compared to nine percent of Singaporean men

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SINGAPORE — A quarter of Singaporean women have experienced sexual harassment, according to latest research by YouGov Omnibus. Of those (men and women) who were sexually harassed, only half reported it or told someone else about the incident, mostly because they were too embarrassed.

On Monday, July 29, YouGov Omnibus released findings on a survey it conducted on sexual harassment in Singapore. Results of the survey, based on the answers of 1,045 respondents, show that 26 percent of Singaporean women have experienced sexual harassment as compared to nine percent of Singaporean men.

Sexual harassment was broken down into different categories — sexual assault, sexual comments, unwanted sexual invitations and receiving unwelcome sexual messages.

The survey showed that 61 percent of those who said they had been sexually harassed experienced sexual assault, 44 percent received verbal comments of a sexual nature, 27 percent received persistent and unwanted invitations of a sexual nature, and 19 percent received unsolicited messages of a sexual nature.

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Half, or 52 percent, of men and women who have experienced sexual harassment do not report it or even tell anyone about what happened.

Embarrassment was cited as the main reason that 42 of sexual harassment survivors  did report it or tell anyone. Fear of repercussion was the second biggest reason, at 30 percent, with feeling that no one will do anything about the problem at a close 29 percent. Cultural and social pressure made 14 percent choose not report it, while 10 percent refrained from telling anyone as they did not want to hurt the perpetrator.

Infographic: Half of those who experience sexual harassment don’t report it for these reasons/YouGov

The survey showed that women are more likely to report a sexual harassment incident than men, with 56 percent versus 40 percent. Of those who said something, 54 percent told friends, 41 percent told family and only 19 percent reported the sexual harassment to the police.

The research highlighted differences in how men and women approach the topic of sexual harassment. Nearly half, or 49 percent, of Singaporean women regularly take precautions to avoid situations that may lead to sexual harassment. In the case of the men, 47 percent said that they do not take any precaution at all.

Of those who take precautions, 68 percent said they do their best to avoid unsafe areas, 58 percent avoid and limit interactions with people they don’t know, and 48 percent avoid being out at certain times, like late at night or very early in the morning.

Dressing a certain way to avoid or prevent sexual harassment is something 58 percent of ladies admitted to, compared to only 28 percent of men.

Half, or 48 percent, of the survey’s respondents said that they know about the #MeToo movement, with 64 percent saying that because of #MeToo, people have become more open to talking about sexual harassment.

Jake Gammon, Head of Omnibus APAC at YouGov Omnibus, pointed out the lack of official statistics on sexual harassment cases in Singapore. Gammon noted that the survey was meant to find out how prevalent sexual harassment is in Singapore and commented on how only half of cases are reported.

“What is surprising is the number of sexual harassment cases that go unreported, and the reasons behind it,” said Gammon.

If you have experienced any form of sexual harassment, remember that you are not alone and that you can get help. There is nothing shameful or embarrassing about it, and there are those who will listen and help you figure out what to do.

Contact the Singapore Sexual Assault Care Centre at +65 6779 0282 or email them at sacc@aware.org.sg if you need to talk to someone about experiencing sexual harassment.

For emergencies, call 999 for the police. Call 1800 221 4444 for the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) if you have thoughts of hurting yourself, including thoughts of suicide. -/TISG

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