Nearly half of artists sexually harassed in music industry, union claims

The Musicians' Union has called for greater protections.

Almost half of artists face sexual harassment in the music industry, new research claims.

Most victims of harassment fear speaking out due to a culture with “few consequences for the perpetrators”.

The Musicians’ Union, which conducted the research, has called on the Government to introduce tougher legislation to stop abuse.

A survey of musicians found that 48% had suffered sexual harassment while they were at work.

More than two thirds of victims feared reporting how they were treated for fear of consequences in their careers, according to the research.

The Musicians’ Union claims that most affected young artists end up leaving the industry while perpetrators face little recrimination.

Naomi Pohl, deputy general secretary at the Musicians’ Union, said: “We are aware of far too many cases of talented musicians, particularly young or emerging artists, leaving the industry altogether due to sexism, sexual harassment or abuse.

“Many musicians who have gone public with their story are now being taken to court for defamation – evidence of the situation we’re dealing with.

“Survivors are often unable to speak out because the consequences for their career or personal life are devastating.

“In most cases we’re aware of, the survivor ends up leaving the workplace or the industry and there are very few consequences for the perpetrator.”

A survey of 725 musicians found that almost half claim to have suffered sexual harassment, and 85% of these did not report it.

More than half of surveyed musicians felt the culture of the industry was the greatest barrier to reporting any form of abuse. Around 60% felt that working on a freelance basis put them at greater risk, without the same safeguards available to those in fixed employment.

An anonymous musician speaking to the union said: “I reported sexual harassment by a high-profile individual to a major employer in the industry.

“I was told this was just ‘lad culture’ by the person investigating my complaint. No wonder such a high proportion of issues go unreported.”

Top reasons given in the research for not speaking out were fear of losing work, believing the issue would not be handled properly, and fear of claims not being taken seriously.

The Musicians’ Union believes it is the careers of those facing harassment, rather than the perpetrators, that suffer, and has called for protections to be extended.

Ms Pohl said: “The data released today exposes the true extent of the problem – and, ultimately, we are eager to work with Government to better protect freelancers.”

The Union is asking the public to sign a petition calling for freelancers to be given “an equal level of protection to those in fixed employment”.

The focus of the petition, Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss, has been contacted for comment.

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