Sexual harassment can happen anywhere, even at Freie Universität. And yet, prevailing wisdom holds that harassment does not take place at universities – the centers of thought and of educated people. In this regard, there is a double taboo to be broken. First, sexual harassment and sexual violence do exist, and they must be talked about; and second, they also take place here at a university.
The Working Group against Sexual Harassment at Freie Universität Berlin was founded in 1985. It provides counseling to women affected by sexual harassment, stalking, or mobbing, and also supports victims in taking action against such behavior. Women who believe they have been the victims of these types of misconduct can also turn to trusted individuals of their choice, including representatives of the staff council, the Chief Gender Equality Officer, or the women’s representative or gender equality officer for their specific department or division. As a matter of course, all parties entrusted to deal with cases of sexual harassment are obligated to maintain confidentiality. Further steps are taken only after consultation with the woman or women affected.
Further tasks of this group include the preparation of informational materials for the members of Freie Universität and the drafting of the Guidelines on Dealing with Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence at Freie Universität (“Richtlinien zum Umgang mit sexueller Belästigung und Gewalt an der Freien Universität”).