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Examples and definitions

Harassment

Harassment includes regular mockery and persecution of other people that is of a discriminatory, humiliating or threatening nature.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is when one or more people regularly and over a prolonged period – or repeatedly and in a gross manner – subject one or more other people to unwanted actions of a sexual nature which are perceived as offensive or insulting by the victim. The offences may be either physical or psychological. Sexual harassment may be perpetrated by both men and women.

Examples of sexual harassment:

  • Unwanted physical contact, touching, patting, hugging, squeezing, caressing etc.
  • Unwelcome insinuations with sexual undertones, such as smutty stories, jokes, comments on a person’s appearance and crude verbal assaults
  • Suggestions, expectations or demands for sexual services
  • Crude and compromising propositions or invitations to sexual activity
  • Displaying pornographic images
  • Physical assault
  • Inappropriate questions about sexual matters

What determines whether harassment has taken place is the individual’s perception of behaviour that is unpleasant or inappropriate.

Bullying

Bullying is an expression of intolerance and a display of contempt for other people. Bullying is behaviour that can undermine another person’s self-respect and sense of worth.

Examples of bullying:

  • Abuse of power
  • Disparaging the person’s work or qualifications
  • Coarse language, in either vocabulary or expression
  • Withholding necessary information
  • Slander or exclusion from the social and professional/academic community
  • Telling-off and ridicule
  • Hostility or silence in response to questions or attempts at conversation
  • Offensive phone calls
  • Offensive written messages

Violence

Violence is an action or threat, whatever its purpose might be, which could violate another person’s integrity or which frightens, hurts or injures that person. Violence can have the same effect on other people who witness or overhear the action. Violence may be a deliberate action or something done in anger. The action also constitutes a breach of accepted laws and standards.

Examples from the Danish Working Environment Authority:

  • Physical violence includes attacks on the person, such as assault, attempted strangulation, stabbing, restraint, throwing things, pinching, biting, scratching or spitting.
  • Psychological violence includes threats of violence or other offensive behaviour, such as threats to life, threats of vandalism in the workplace, threats to a colleague’s family or friends or to their property, and systematic disparagement.

Threats may be expressed without words, e.g. with clenched fists or a finger drawn across the throat, or in the form of drawings. Psychological violence and threats of violence can be communicated via texts, email or websites.

Discrimination

Unequal treatment based on prejudice against individuals or groups; usually in areas such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, and physical or mental disability.

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