Stalking prevalent in Cayman

Sexual harassment, too

Half the people who took part in a survey about sexual harassment and stalking in Cayman said they have been stalked and 40 per cent claimed to have been sexually harassed.

The findings of the survey, conducted on behalf of the Young Business and Professional Women’s Club, was recently presented to government, and showed an overwhelming majority of respondents wanted to see anti-stalking and anti-sexual harassment laws enacted.

The survey was carried out in September 2006 after the Club formed a taskforce to investigate ways to change laws in Cayman, which they felt were inadequate to protect people from stalking and harassment.

Cayman has no legislation pertaining to sexual harassment or stalking.

This report, to which 637 people responded, is a final version of the draft findings released in August 2007. Since that draft report, no new legislation has been introduced.

Len Layman, who chaired a special advisory committee looking into gender abuse issues following the death of rights campaigner Estella Scott-Roberts, has recommended that the government set up a national body to oversee existing and potential legislation addressing a wide range of gender issues, including stalking and sexual harassment.

His committee has presented its findings to Cabinet.

‘We have not heard back yet on whether the recommendations we made are going to be adopted in some form or other,’ he said, but he added that he is hopeful.

Shari Seymour of the YBPW Club said the taskforce had not heard back from the government on what it would do with the survey findings since the final report was presented on 19 January.

Health and Human Services Chief Officer Diane Montoya, in a press release this week on the report, said: ‘The Ministry has always encouraged the development of public and private partnerships to address social issues such as these.’

She added that the ministry will continue to work closely with the YBPW Taskforce and ‘as far as possible, incorporate its concerns into the priorities the government is developing in the gender affairs.’

Stalking

The most common type of stalking, the report found, was people being repeatedly pressured for dates or a romantic relation that was unwanted or uninvited, while the most common form of sexual harassment was repeatedly being the target of sexually suggestive comments, gestures, or looks that were unwanted or uninvited.

It also found that women were more likely to be stalked or sexually harassed by strangers rather than acquaintances or ex-partners, while men were more likely to be targeted by people they knew.

Of those who claimed they had been stalked, more than a quarter (28.4 per cent) reported it to police, and only 9.3 per cent of those who said they had been sexually harassed made police reports. More than half of the people who reported stalking to police said they were dissatisfied with the police response.

Of the respondents who experienced work-related stalking, only 4.5 per cent – all women – complained to their employers.

According to the report, the most common reasons for not filing a police complaint was because victims ignored the behaviour; they thought they could take care of the problem themselves; or they thought filing a complaint would make matters worse.

Of those who had been stalked, 36.9 per cent said it had interfered ‘very much’ with their day-to-day lives, while 48.3 per cent said it interfered ‘somewhat’ with their daily lives. People aged 60 or older, who reported being stalked, said it had not impacted their daily lives at all.

Nearly half – 48.9 per cent said they found the experience of being stalked ‘very upsetting’.

Almost 45 per cent said the stalking had lasted over a period of months, while 23.9 per cent said it lasted over a month.

It appeared the younger a person, the more likely it was that she/he had been the victim of stalking, with 68.4 per cent of respondents aged younger than 20 revealing they had experienced some type of stalking, as well as 58.8 per cent of those aged from 20 to 29. In contrast, only 27.3 per cent of recipients aged older than 60 reported being stalked.

The majority of respondents – 76.7 per cent – said they had been stalked by one individual.

Most offenders male

The report showed that most offenders were male (81.3 per cent), and were older than their victims (55.7 per cent), with individuals aged 49 and younger most likely to be stalked by an older offender, while individuals aged 50 or older were most likely to be stalked by someone younger.

The majority – 60.8 per cent – of offenders were Caymanian or Caymanian status holders, according to the report.

Most victims – 51.1 per cent – turned to family or friends for help when they were stalked, while 34.1 per cent went to police for assistance. Of the 301 respondents who said they had been stalked, more than quarter sought help from no one.

The survey also asked respondents if Cayman should enact stalking legislation – 92.7 percent said it should, with a majority agreeing they would be more likely to file a complaint if the law were in place.

Sexual harassment

Of the 270 respondents who said they had been sexually harassed, 91.2 per cent said they had been harassed by a male, and 7.8 per cent had been harassed by a female, while 2.1 per cent said they had been harassed by both a male and a female.

Of those, 44.3 per cent said they had been sexually harassed at work, 43.3 per cent in a social setting, and 29.9 at home.

Males were more likely to be harassed in a social setting (42.9 per cent), while women were most likely to be sexually harassed at work (45 per cent).

Nearly half said sexual harassment had interfered with their daily lives ‘somewhat’, while 31.3 per cent said it had ‘very much’ interfered with their lives.

Strangers were more likely to subject victims to sexual harassment, according to the report, with 34.4 per cent of female respondents saying they did not know their harasser. Almost a quarter – 23.3 per cent – of women said their harassers were acquaintances and 21.7 per cent said they were co-workers.

For men who said they had experienced sexual harassment, a third said they were harassed by strangers, 25.8 per cent by acquaintances and 20.1 per cent by co-workers.

Most of the offenders were male (91.2 per cent), but when it came to male victims, the offender was mostly female – in 78.6 per cent of cases, with males harassing males in 21.4 per cent of cases.

The majority of victims of sexual harassment (58.2 per cent) did not seek help. Of those who did, 30.4 per cent sought help from family and friends.

Just 21.9 per cent of those in the survey who said they had been harassed reported the matter to police. And only 7.2 per cent who had experienced work-related sexual harassment filed a complaint with their employer – in all cases, these were female victims.

Of those who filed complaints with police, half said they were dissatisfied with the response, with the majority of those saying police ‘did nothing’.

The report stated that 7.2 per cent of those surveyed reported some form of sexual harassment to their employer, and in 56.9 per cent of those cases, the employer took action against the offender, while in 36.1 per cent of cases, their employer did nothing.

Of the 498 people who responded to the question of whether there should be sexual harassment legislation, 94.6 per cent said there should be a law, while 2.2 per cent said no. Again, the majority said they were more likely to file a complaint if such legislation was in place.

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