A fifth of all hotel chambermaids have experienced
Helsinki (31.07.2011 - Juhani Artto) The case against ex-IMF chief Dominique
Strauss-Kahn's brings to light the risk of sexual harassment
chambermaids working in hotels face daily. In Finland, studies conducted by
the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health have repeatedly documented that
sexual harassment is more common in the hotel and catering sector than in
any other industry. Around one tenth of hotel and catering sector
employees have experienced sexual harassment at work, the Institute's
Amongst hotel chambermaids the problem may be even more prevalent. A clear
indication that this is so comes from a recent mini-survey conducted by
PAM, the magazine of the Service
Union United PAM. The magazine mailed its questionnaire to some 500
organized chambermaids. Twenty-five per cent replied and twenty per cent of
respondents claimed to have experienced sexual harassment at their places of
in various hotels around the country.
Respondents refer to grabbing of breasts and buttocks, appearing nude in
front of the employee and direct suggestions to have sex. Some hotel guests
have crossed the line of decent behaviour with sexual innuendo by expressing
inappropriate comments on the
employee. However, none of the respondents have been victims of rape itself.
a few cases hotel guests have tried to prevent the chambermaid from leaving
Seija Virta, PAM's expert on occupational safety, insists that employers and
employees have to apply zero tolerance towards all forms of sexual
harassment. The survey makes it apparent that not all hotels and/or hotel
chains have clear guidelines for situations where sexual harassment occurs.
The survey reinforces the belief that not all cases are reported to
employers and shop stewards.
"Some employees are just not willing to report sexual harassment. Others may
themselves for provoking the hotel guest into behaving in a certain way and
"If anybody thinks that sexual harassment belongs to the very nature of the
business and something that must be simply endured, this reflects a very
wrong attitude", Virta says.