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Letter: harassment – a problem, no question

11 Jan 18

It must be considered everyone's problem if things are to change

by Lindsay Thomson

I have read with appalled interest the December lead feature (p 12). I also took time to look again at the November correspondence (p 6) in terms of the sexual harassment comments.

I'm disappointed with the focus of the harassment part of the feature, particularly the comment about their being a majority of female respondents who have not been harassed or know about harassment. Lucky 53.4%! And “lucky” that there were 3.4% to make the figure a majority. Your header about how big a problem is harassment is really unfortunate. I think reading the comments from November tells you it is a huge problem, particularly for those subject to it, and it must be considered everyone's problem if things are to change.

How can we reconcile ourselves to comments like “women do not matter” in Edinburgh's commercial property sector? Does it just become a big problem when the current small majority tips into a large minority, so we can no longer reassure ourselves that a majority of people are alright? In terms of whether equality is practised (the feature title), the first comment in November is not about equality, it is about criminality. Sexual assault is being practised by solicitors in Scotland.

The article goes on to discuss how respondents indicate that dealing with sexual harassment is a problem. This is a “knock-on” problem and has terrible consequences for individuals. The problem is that harassment happens in the first place and is condoned, acknowledged, tolerated and supported by the structures and hierarchy of our profession.

Rather than just focusing on training and support for victims, I would be interested in an article which sets out exactly what behaviour is not tolerated and the consequences for those people who contravene the required standards of behaviour. To take no action would risk the reputation of our profession, but more importantly do a complete injustice to those of our members who have responded.

Lindsay Thomson, Clackmannan

 

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