IUF affiliate PAM has surveyed hotel room cleaners, asking questions about their experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace. The risks facing these workers has been highlighted recently by the case against ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Respondents to the survey reported instances of inappropriate sexual comments being made , guests grabbing their breasts and buttocks, appearing nude in front of them as well as directly propositioning them for sex. Although none of the respondents have been victims of rape , in a few cases hotel guests had tried to prevent them from leaving the room.
The survey reinforces findings of The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health which has repeatedly documented that sexual harassment is more common in the hotel and catering sector than in any otherindustry. According to the Institute’s studies 10% of hotel and catering sector employees have experienced sexual harassment at work.
The survey also confirms that not all cases are reported “Some employees are just not willing to report sexual harassment. Others may blame themselves for provoking the hotel guest into behaving in a certain way and feel therefore ashamed.” Says Seija Virta, PAM’s expert on occupational safety,