Three cleaners out of 10 are victims of sexual violence at work
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    Three cleaners out of 10 are victims of sexual violence at work

    On the occasion of the 10th edition of Cleaning Day, the CSC presented a national survey, that was conducted in January with more than 51,000 cleaners and homemakers on the subject gender-based violence, on Tuesday. According to the results, 31.7% of cleaners had been victims of sexual violence at work. 37% of them spoke of unwanted touching. The vast majority (60%) report verbal gender-based violence, ranging from remarks to threats.

    More than 200,000 workers earn their living by cleaning, according to the Christian union. It is an isolated job because the workplace is often the private property of the client and the cleaners usually work alone without a colleague. These characteristics of the job make cleaners more vulnerable to sexual violence. The survey shows that it is the workers in the caretaking sector who most often report problems.

    Cleaners who were victims of gender-based violence reported rape and assault (1.25%), touching (36.71%), economic pressures on their incomes (7.52%), and gender-related verbal abuse (60.67%). The other forms of gender-based violence reported by 26.54% of victims included the use of pornographic films in their presence, requests to wear provocative clothing, or simple looks. Cases of masturbation in front of the cleaners were also mentioned in the open questions, although the study did not envisage this possibility.

    Pia Stalpaert, President of the CSC Food and Services, said the problem was largely unknown: “The taboo is still huge and problems are often not reported.” The union is considering a number of measures, including the provision of training to help cleaners respond to violence and contact persons that are able to provide support. The Committee for Occupational Prevention and Protection was asked to examine the issue.

    Maria Novak
    The Brussels Times