Maritime industry is widely considered to be a male-dominated profession. Looking at the numbers of male and female seafarers, this hypothesis is true, as women seafarers are less than 2% of seafarers worldwide. Most importantly however, women seafarers are also significantly less happy than their male coworkers. Why is that the case though? In this article we will examine the reason of women seafarers’ unhappiness, and the factors that push women away from shipping.
Similar to their male co-workers, women also feel isolated or lonely at sea. This may be exacerbated if they are the only woman onboard or they face gender-based discrimination due to forming part of a male-dominated industry.
Human Rights at Sea recently issued a case of bullying and harassment towards an Indian Chief Engineer from a Turskish Master onboard a Marshall Islands flagged vessel. In fact, the case remains redacted and the identities are protected, since the matter is under investigation by Human Rights at Sea.
According to the Peterhead Sheriff’s Court, a Scottish skipper has been found guilty for assaulting and racially-aggravating harassment upon five non-European crewmemebes, during a six-year period.
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the results of the investigation they conducted concerning how the USCG handled bullying incidents and allegations over harassment. Thus, they provide seven recommendations, as the investigation revealed that there is still room for improvement.
On the occasion of the World Human Rights Day celebrated on 10 December every year and in response to the emerging public international awareness on abuses at sea, British charity Human Rights at Sea launched its online platform on ‘Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea’.
Loneliness is one of the key issues associated with mental health problems at sea. Separation from family creates a sense of loneliness and isolation for seafarers. A Danish study is currently looking into what can be done to improve the situation.
Bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, is an abuse of human rights and a key area of concern for the working environment, especially onboard ships where there is limited alternative for someone to avoid it. This aspect of abuse is particularly important for women, as it is considered one of the reasons keeping them away from a shipping career.
ITF’s General Secretary, Stephen Cotton, speaking at the ILO’s centenary conference in Geneva, highlighted that ‘now is the time to assert authority as the global standard-bearer for labour rights.’ ILO agreed a centenary declaration designed to give all workers a floor of rights and protections in an ever-changing world of work.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) welcomes ILO’s Convention and Recommendation to tackle violence and harassment in workplace. ITF supported that the lives of ITF union members, and in particular women transport workers, will be improved as a direct result.
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