About Sexual Harassment

Say "No" to Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is not a joke.

Whether intended or unintended, sexual harassment has a serious negative impact on individuals as well as organisations.

On an individual, affecting the person’s physical and psychological well-being, interpersonal relationships, and educational or career development. Apart from the individual impact, sexual harassment can also have an adverse effect on an organisation. On top of low staff morale that leads to decreased productivity, a company may face lawsuits as a result of sexual harassment conducted by its employees.

This page aims at providing the public with all you need to know about sexual harassment, to help society gain a better understanding of such behaviour and the legal protection available, as well as channels for those whom are impacted to take necessary precautionary measures.

The Equal Opportunities Commission is committed to working with all sectors of the community to create a safe and harassment-free environment, in which all individuals enjoy equality of opportunities, dignity and rights.

Let’s work together and put an end to sexual harassment!

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome or uninvited sexual behaviour that is generally regarded as offensive, humiliating or intimidating. There are two forms of sexual harassment:

  1. Any unwelcome sexual behaviour or conduct which is offensive, humiliating or intimidating; or
  2. An environment where there are actions, languages or pictures that are of a sexual nature that makes it hard for the victim. This is called “a sexually hostile or intimidating environment”.

Examples of Sexual Harassment

  • Unwelcome physical contact or actions (for example, deliberately rubbing up against someone’s body, kissing, hugging, etc.)
  • Make wretched poses
  • Make unwelcome sexual demands
  • Make sex-related obscene jokes and comment on other people’s figures
  • Constantly questioning or insinuating other people’s sex lives
  • Circulate sexually explicit materials (for example, email, instant message on a mobile app, etc.)

Examples of a Hostile or Intimidating Environment

  • Make sexual jokes
  • Access pornographic websites at work 
  • Use indecent photos as the desktop background
  • Display or put up sexually suggestive or explicit photographs, posters or calendar

Under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, is sexual harassment prohibited under all environments?

No, sections on sexual harassment only apply to key areas of public life, such as: 

  • Employment
    For example, colleagues (including volunteers and interns) in the same office or a common workplace, applicants, contractual workers, foreign domestic helpers, etc
  • Education
    Between staff and students, among students, etc.
  • Provision of goods, services, or facilities
    Between providers and users, for example, shopkeepers and customers, etc.
  • Participation in clubs
    For example between coaches and apprentices, etc.
  • Disposal or management of premises
    Between owners of premises and tenants or occupants.

What is not considered as sexual harassment?

Interaction of a sexual nature, flirtation, attraction or friendship which is invited, mutual, consensual and reciprocated is not sexual harassment.

Does sexual harassment only happen to female?

No, sexual harassment happens regardless of gender.

In what forms does sexual harassment usually take place?

Sexual harassment can involve physical, visual, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature which is uninvited and unwelcome.

What can you do if you are sexually harassed?

  1. Speak up and say “no” at the time to tell the harasser that his/her act is unwelcome and should be stopped immediately.
  2. Keep a written record of the incidents, including the dates, time, location, witnesses and nature (what the harasser has said or done) and your response.
  3. Get emotional support and advice from the people you trust.
  4. Seek help from a non-governmental organisation (NGO) or a related organisation.
  5. Report the incident to your supervisor if it happened at your workplace.
  6. Lodge a written complaint with the EOC.
  7. Consult a lawyer or institute legal proceedings at the District Court.