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For Women Seafarers in the Philippines, Sexual Harassment at Sea Goes Mostly Unpunished

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October 1, 2020

Photo: benjapol congliang

A new article from the Institute of Development Studies tells the story of a group of women seafarers from the Philippines seeking to shed light on instances of sexual harassment in the maritime industry.

Filipinos make up the biggest portion of the estimated 1.6 million seafarers worldwide. While the maritime industry in the Philippines has been traditionally male-focussed for centuries, women began entering the seafaring workforce in the 1990’s as more and more maritime academies began opening their doors to female cadets. And in 2017, there were estimated to be more than 17,000 female seafarers, making up 3.8 percent of the total total 449,000 working at sea that year.

Based on interviews with Filipino women seafarers, the article highlights that it wasn’t alway smooth sailing for them. Many have reported experiencing various forms of sexual harassment from their male colleagues and senior officers, and to make matters worse, women seafarers who have fallen victim to sexual harassment and assault have been faced hurdles in filing complaints, leaving their aggressor mostly unpunished.

The new article by the IDS tells the story of how a group of Filipino women seafarers have organized the first-ever women’s committee at the Association of Marine Officers and Seafarers’ Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP), the biggest seafarers’ union in the Philippines, to help fight back against sexual harassment in the maritime industry.

The self-proclaimed “shefarers” have started talking about verbal and physical sexual harassment in order to raise awareness of the problem.

Read the full article: Uniting Against the Tides: Filipino ‘Shefarers’ Organising Against Sexual Harassment*

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