Sexual harassment is a form of sexual violence that affects up to 97% of women (UN). Due to its prevalence, it’s often described as culturally endemic.
Nurses in particular are at risk of sexual harassment with a recent Nursing Times investigation highlighting that as many as 60% of nurses have been subject to this behaviour with some stating that it is so normalised, that it makes them feel afraid but that “no one cares about it”.
The recent announcement of RCN Congress moving to online only will have come as a shock to many members, particularly in light of “serious allegations of sexual harassment”. For many women, this issue will be potentially triggering also. For anyone struggling following the announcement, please talk to a trusted loved one if you feel able or get in touch with one of the helplines below. You are not alone.
The Feminist Network stands in solidarity with council and the college in their decision to protect and safeguard members’ safety and wellbeing. We also stand in solidarity with any member who has come forward to bravely speak about their experiences – we believe you and we want to encourage any member who has a similar experience to report what has happened to them. It is not easy to make a report and we call upon the college to make this as safe and easy as possible for all victims.
Aim number 4 of the feminist network is to address “Sexual harassment and assault in the workplace” but this extends also to gatherings where nurses may be at risk. We therefore commend the decision of council to take strong and decisive action. We look forward to a review of safeguarding procedures and hope that all future RCN events are places where all members can feel safe and respected.
Where to find help:
Victim Support: 08081689111
The Samaritans: 116123
National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 08082000247
Men’s Advice Line: 08088010327