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Sexual Harassment Female sailors decry assault, stress, aboard ships

The survey pointed out that the findings were necessary at a time that the entire world was working to increase the recruitment and retention of women seafarers

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Female sailors play

Female sailors

(news.com)

No fewer than 18 per cent of women seafarers globally decried sexual harassment, stress, anxiety and headaches on board ships.

This is contained in ``Women Seafarers’ Health and Welfare Survey'' conducted from 2014 to 2015, a copy of which was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos.

The president, Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria, Mrs Mary Hamman, made the survey available.

NAN reports that the survey is a joint collaboration study of the International Maritime Health Association (IMHA), and the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN).

The International Workers’ Federation (ITF) and Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS) also participated in the survey.

According to the survey, 595 responses were received from women seafarers from a range of nationalities, ages and positions on board ships.

`` The survey said that joint/back pain, stress/depression, anxiety and headache, seem to be the most common symptoms reported by women seafarers and that 55 per cent felt that they are related their work.

``Forty eight per cent stated that they have problems with seeking medical care and offer suggestions to improve this.

``Significantly, 37 per cent of women seafarers also stated that they did not have access to sanitary bins within the toilet, while 18 per cent say that sexual harassment is an issue,’’ NAN quotes the survey as saying.

The survey explained, “ Routine wellness checks, nutrition and information on joint and back pains are the main areas that women seafarers said health screening/services/information would be most useful to improve their health and well-being.’’

According to the survey, they (women seafarers) suggested that this could best be received directly from health professionals or alternatively, by reading leaflets from online websites.

It also suggested the introduction of means of disposing sanitary wastes for all female crew on all ships and the improved availability of female specific products like sanitary products in port shops and welfare centres worldwide.

The survey pointed out that the findings were necessary at a time that the entire world was working to increase the recruitment and retention of women seafarers

It added that existing research indicated that some countries continue to ban women from enrolling for nautical courses.

The survey noted that some employers were often reluctant to appoint women cadets/qualified seafarers because of a ``misled belief’’ that women work at sea for less time than men.

``Women are often paid less than men doing the same work. Women may be denied the facilities/equipment available to men on board,’’ the survey said.

``Women seafarers may face bullying, sexual harassment or violence at sea. There are insufficient number of women seafarers to allow for accurate statistical comparisons of male and female retention rates within the industry,’’ it added.

The survey explained that , ``Having women as part of the crew can help reduce the sense of isolation felt by men seafarers and hence supports overall retention.’’

``The United Nations has been promoting women’s employment and the integration of women into all levels of political, social and economic development since the 1970s.

``As part of this, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) produced a strategy of the integration of women in the maritime sector in 1988 known as ``Women in Development.

``This programme has concentrated on equal access to maritime training through both mainstream programmes and gender-specific projects and has been followed by two, four years’ recruitment and sensitisation programmes.

``In particular, the ILO’s Joint Maritime Committee has called for more research to be conducted on women seafarers,’’ it said.

The survey explained that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the IMO called for a more active role to be taken in promoting the integration of women in the industry.

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