Over half of women in the publishing industry have experienced sexual harassment

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A recent survey has suggested that more than half of those working in the books industry have experienced sexual harassment of some degree. 

54 per cent of the female respondents and 34 per cent of the male all admitted to experiencing “harassment, assault or predatory behaviour”.

The anonymous online poll was conducted by the Bookseller, which collated 388 responses from industry professionals including agents, organisers and booksellers.

The incidents reported in the survey range from unwanted advances and contact, physical assault and two cases of rape.

A high majority of those surveyed reported that the incidents took place when they were younger, with more junior colleagues being harassed by men in senior positions.

46 per cent of publicists revealed they had experienced harassment, whilst 61 per cent of booksellers admitted to experiencing abusive behavior from customers, authors and colleagues.

Just 29.4 per cent of those who admitted to harassment said they reported it to authorities or their boss.

According to one editor, she described being ‘groped at an office party by a very senior male colleague’.

“I completely froze…I never mentioned it to anyone, I didn’t think it was worth it because he was in control of my career'”.

The Bookseller’s deputy editor, Benedicte Page, said the publishing industry was ‘becoming aware of the widespread issue’.

“We understand that all of the major publishers have policies in place that appear to be good and robust”, she said.

“What was also clear was that despite this, many staff felt unable to report incidents, and perhaps a restarting of procedures may be useful”.

An industry-wide code of conduct covering all sectors, including authors, has been called for it may be that the trade associations- the Publishers Association, Booksellers Association, Society of Authors and the Association of Authors’ Agents- need to get together and discuss that”.

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