During the 105th session of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee, members agreed to the establishment of an IMO/ILO joint group to consider bullying and harassment in the maritime sector, including sexual assault and sexual harassment.
exual assault and harassment in the maritime environment pose significant risks to the safety and well-being of seafarers and to the safety of the vessel itself because of detrimental effects on the health, safety, and performance of seafarers.
These adverse effects include declining seafarers’ mental health, safety and well-being, with subsequent negative effects on recruitment and attrition rates of seafarers.
The IMO has recognized the importance of developing a maritime workplace culture that is safe and inclusive for all seafarers and maritime professionals as a means of improving operational safety and security in the maritime industry. For this reason, after the IMO decided to create a group to address bullying and harassment in shipping.
The group will take into account information submitted by interested parties, with a view to providing recommendations for future steps, including the development of legislation, mechanisms and policies, and the launching of awareness campaigns by relevant stakeholders, aimed at reporting and addressing these matters.
In the next meeting of the HTW subcommittee, amendments to the STCW Convention will be developed to address bullying and harassment in the maritime sector, including sexual assault and sexual harassment as a matter of priority. Changes to any existing model course will follow after the amendments to the Convention are developed.
By changing the maritime culture and encouraging Member States to implement mechanisms and adopt relevant policies and legislation to protect seafarers, the IMO is making every effort to tackle these issues and take corrective actions against unacceptable behavior and practices of this nature
During April, 18 signatories, including governments and associations, urged the IMO to take measures and end the growing problem of sexual harassment and bullying at sea.
In a paper sent to the IMO, the signatories said that recent incidents emphasised the need for action.
Recent events and news on sexual harassment and assault have highlighted the need for a concerted effort to prevent these incidents and to reaffirm the need for a culture of inclusion
Taking the above into considerations, the paper proposed mandating the joint ILO/IMO Tripartite Working Group to identify and address seafarers’ issues and the human element (JTWG) to consider, with a view to addressing, sexual assault and harassment in the maritime sector.
The purpose of this work would be to discuss the issue and provide recommendations for future steps to address sexual assault and harassment, and provide recommendations for changing the maritime culture.