By Kim Bo-eun
Nine out of 10 employees who experience sexual harassment at work remain silent about it, a survey showed Wednesday.
The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family published the findings of the survey which showed 90.8 percent of the respondents did not take any measures after incidents of harassment.
Research firm Hankook Research and Chungang University conducted the survey among 7,957 employees at schools, government agencies and local administrations between September and October.
Among the employees, 3.8 percent responded that they had experienced sexual harassment over the past year and 7.4 percent said they had either witnessed or heard about such incidents.
Non-regular workers were more prone to harassment, 7.5 percent responded affirmatively regarding knowledge of such occurrences compared to 3 percent of the regular workers. Female employees were also more likely than their male counterparts to be victims of harassment, with 7.7 percent targeted while 0.5 of males reported such experiences.
The survey showed female employees are also more reluctant to report such cases. Those who remained silent stood at 66.7 percent for men and 92.2 percent for women.
The most widely-cited reason for failure to report the incidents, cited by 29 percent, was concerns about it negatively affecting their work performance evaluations.
This was followed by doubts that harassment directed at them would be addressed (27.5 percent), fear of rumors spreading or their reputation being damaged (17.4 percent), not regarding such incidents as a big deal (14.5 percent) and the absence of a place to seek help (7.2 percent).
Results of the survey suggest that the reluctance among employees to report incidents may be due to people's unclear awareness of what constitutes acts of sexual harassment.
While 50.2 percent of respondents perceived sexual harassment to be a serious issue in Korean society, a mere 3.2 percent responded that they felt it was a serious issue in their workplace.
The survey showed that 24.7 percent of workplaces do not allocate any budget to deal with such cases. Only 45.7 percent of them, excluding schools, had separate manuals providing guidelines on how to deal with the cases.
"Regulations dealing with sexual harassment cases at workplaces need to be toughened," said a ministry official.
"Education on preventing sex crimes is also necessary, so that people can have proper awareness of it," she said.