Prevalence of sexual harassment among young Spaniards before, during and after the COVID-19 confinement period in Spain | BMC Public Health

The results of our analysis clearly show that SH is a manifestation of power that primarily disadvantages women, young people, non-heterosexuals, and those in paid employment.

Our results indicate that women are almost twice as likely as men to experience HS. While men can also be subjected to HS, women are more often disempowered due to a lack of physical and economic strength, finding themselves in more vulnerable and dangerous situations, and suffering the consequences of an educational system and culturally heteropatriarchal, so the sexual aggressor is usually male and the person being harassed is usually female [13, 22].

We observed that, in heterosexual men and women, the estimated prevalence of HS was lower than that observed in the LGB community, with prevalence estimates in the bivariate analysis of 31.5% for heterosexuals versus 53 , 39.2 and 34.6% for bisexuals. , gays and lesbians, respectively. Other studies also suggest that non-heterosexuals experience a higher percentage of harassing behavior than heterosexuals. [1, 3]. These authors also indicate that the most common negative effects of cyberbullying on LGB youth are psychological, emotional, and behavioral, causing more problems in the sports world due to fear of being bullied and also showing lower academic performance.

Coinciding with the literature (2019 Violence Against Women Macrosurvey), our study shows that age is also a key factor in the incidence of HS, with the estimated prevalence being higher in young people than in older people, with a percentage of prevalence among 18–24 year olds twice as high as that observed in the 30–35 age group.

Employment status is another factor that has highlighted these power structures, as we found that the likelihood of SH is higher among those who have paid employment than among those who do not. Conversely, no significant difference was observed in men for this variable. This finding clearly shows that SH is present in the workplace and that the harasser is often someone from the workplace, such as a co-worker, boss or client ([34]; 2019 macro-survey on violence against women).

In a more intimate environment, SH can also take place in a relational context. However, our statistical model yielded higher prevalence estimates for people who did not cohabit with a partner or who had never had a partner compared to those who did. Although harassment within a relationship has been normalized for several years due to the belief that it was a private matter, it has repercussions on the health of the victims and a significant social impact. [12]. Harassment within a relationship between two young people who are not cohabiting or who are not married is markedly different from that which occurs within the framework of a marriage or cohabitations. Firstly because of the age of the harassers and the victims, which is clearly lower among non-cohabiting partners. Second, due to factors related to parental, contractual or financial responsibilities in the case of cohabiting couples [30]. Thus, the higher prevalence of HS among people without a partner or who do not cohabit with a partner can be explained by their age (which tends to be higher among people in a couple) or the fact that harassment within a relationship takes on a dimension of sexual violence experienced and reported by the victim as such.

The evolution of the prevalence of SH detected before, during and after the period of confinement indicates that this type of harassment mainly takes place outside the family setting: in the workplace, in the school environment. [7, 28] and in public places (SH street) [35]. Thus, the disappearance of gender, age and paid work as variables affecting SH during the confinement period would be explained by the temporary closure of workplaces, classrooms, both public (squares, streets, etc. ) as private (bars, restaurants, pubs, etc.) social spaces.

Although the temporary closure of workplaces and classrooms has prevented face-to-face harassment, this type of behavior has entered the digital environment through offensive messages, insinuations or proposals, provocations, attempts to contact under false identities, messages with sexual content or offensive calls. acts of SV mostly experienced by women and adolescents [6]. Cybersexual harassment is a crime envisaged in the amendment to the Spanish Penal Code of 2015. Therefore, we describe acts that have only been criminalized since very recently. It is important to highlight variables such as gender, relationship, age, country of birth and sexual orientation in the context of technological harassment. As in the case of other studies, our analysis highlights that women, generally in a stable relationship [26]are the main victims of these digital attacks (66.7% against 33.3% among men) [23]. These cyber attacks between couples are a subtype of psychological aggression that takes place via social networks and aims to threaten, humiliate and control the behavior and social relationships of the partner. [14]. Moreover, as our results show, the most vulnerable groups (minors, immigrants or LGTBI community) suffer more from this type of harassment. [15].

The above is evident in the results of our study. The most frequently reported SH behaviors before and after periods of confinement were insistent or lascivious looks that intimidated someone (respectively 63.4 and 54.4% in the pre-confinement and post-confinement periods, compared to 22.9 % during the confinement period) and received sexual jokes or offensive comments about someone’s body or private life (respectively 39.7 and 34.3% in the pre-confinement and post-confinement period compared to 32, 2% during the confinement period). On the other hand, during the confinement period, harassment via electronic channels, such as those who received inappropriate, humiliating, intimidating or offensive insinuations on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (35.1% during the confinement period confinement versus 20.1% before and after period) or received sexually explicit and inappropriate emails, WhatsApp messages or text messages that make someone feel offended, humiliated or intimidated (32.6% during the period confinement versus 16.5 and 17.8% before and after this period, respectively), was more significant, which highlights the fact that the harasser was an acquaintance who had the contact details of the harassed person.

The results obtained in our analysis are consistent with those reported in existing publications in the scientific literature but provide new information on SH regarding the use of a mixed sample (including both women and men). This approach avoids the sexist bias affecting many studies including exclusively female samples by justifying that only women experience this type of harassment. However, this claim falls apart when considering non-heterosexual men. Our sampling plan and the breadth of the panel used to extract it allowed us to determine the exposure to HS in young Spaniards.

Although much work is being done to raise awareness about bullying in society, there is still a long way to go. We live in a society that is currently making great progress in certain aspects; however, there is still discrimination based on a person’s gender, sexual orientation or age, supported by power relations that do not respect equal opportunity. This is why our findings are relevant, as they can help design prevention policies and programs that can be applied to adolescents and youth to prevent these behaviors in the future. Because eradicating SH (as well as other types of abuse) will require a cultural shift influencing political, business and educational formulations in different countries to ensure that equal opportunities are truly given to all, regardless of their age, race, gender, or religion.

Comments are closed.