Sexual Harassment – What we already know


The below content sets out the Scottish Government’s position on the topic of sexual harassment and also includes a ‘state of the nation’, prepared by the government’s analytical department.

Scottish Government Policy Position

Sexual harassment or abuse of any form whether in the workplace, in the home or in society, is completely reprehensible and must stop. It is a form of gender based violence and we are committed to tackling it. Everyone has the right to work and live their life free of abuse, harassment and intimidation – the Scottish Government encourages anyone who has experienced this to report it. We know that Sexual Harassment is not a problem specific to any one institution. We must tackle the underlying attitudes and inequalities and the culture that perpetuates this behaviour. It is the responsibility of all society and for us as individuals to take action.

The Scottish Government, COSLA and key partners are implementing Equally Safe, Scotland’s strategy to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls (VaWG) – working with stakeholders to prevent violence from occurring in the first place, building the capability and capacity of mainstream and specialist services to support survivors and those at risk, and strengthening the Justice response to victims and perpetrators. We are investing around £11.8 million over 2018/19 from the Equalities Portfolio to support a range of projects and initiatives to tackle VaWG, as well as £20 million over 2015-18 from Justice budgets. A specific action in the Equally Safe Delivery Plan published in November 2017 is to run a national sexual harassment campaign, and we are working with Rape Crisis Scotland to develop this. The aim of the campaign is to promote a clearer understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment and how to challenge it. Our broader prevention agenda, which seeks to raise awareness of gender based violence and ensure that this is embedded in schools through sexual violence prevention work and a pilot whole schools project, is also relevant. We have also committed to encouraging employers to adopt robust policies and procedures, and are working with Close the Gap to develop and pilot an Equally Safe accreditation scheme for employers. We also recently launched the Equally Safe in Higher Education Toolkit, and work is underway to roll this out to higher and further education institutions. In relation to tackling perpetrators, we have committed to considering the recommendations of Lord Bracadale’s independent review of hate crime legislation, which includes consideration of gender issues.

Further reading: Scottish Government Analytical Services – state of the nation.