Despite its reputation as one of the most gender-equal places in the world, the Nordic Region had been shaken by the #metoo movement. The testimonies of those affected highlight the great need to prevent discrimination and sexual harassment in all areas of working life, including in the legal system. In response, the Nordic justice ministers have produced a #metoo handbook to address the issue and prevent harassment.
“In my opinion, everyday sexism is one of the biggest problems in the legal profession. In my job, I hear offensive sexist and racist jokes every day, even about the clients. Sometimes people talk about people who have been victims of sexual crimes in a condescending manner and suggest they were ‘asking for it’.” The handbook references testimonials from the #metoo movement.
Sometimes people talk about people who have been victims of sexual crimes in a condescending manner and suggest they were ‘asking for it’.
Public confidence in the legal system may be damaged if legal professionals do not take sexual harassment and discrimination in their own organisations seriously. The handbook is a tool that provides specific guidelines and models for a wide variety of measures intended to combat harassment and is aimed at all professions in the legal system. Paula Lehtomäki, Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers, stresses the importance of everybody obeying the law.
“The target group for the handbook is everyone who works in the legal system. It is crucial that those who uphold the law also abide by it. But the handbook is actually applicable to all workplaces, she points out.
Focus on perpetrators and encouraging everyday commitment
One focus of the handbook is on issues rarely described in detail, such as the typical behaviour of the perpetrators or the role of subjectivity in gender-based harassment. The aim is to bring about qualitative and far-reaching change that will stop harassment and discrimination.
“We have highlighted everyday tips and approaches aimed at addressing the way people speak and at intervening in situations in which sexual harassment occurs or is likely to develop because we know from experience that these are the tools that are needed in the field,” says Malin Gustavsson, an expert in gender equality and diversity issues at Ekvalita.
The Nordic Council of Ministers worked on the handbook with Malin Gustavsson and Maria Normann from Ekvalita. Ekvalita works with issues of gender equality and equal treatment and has extensive experience dealing with sexual harassment at ministries, universities, companies and organisations.
We have highlighted everyday tips and approaches aimed at addressing the way people speak and intervening in situations in which sexual harassment occurs