Sexual and gender-based harassment

According to studies, women and sexual and gender minorities are particularly vulnerable to inappropriate treatment and harassment in sports. Underlying this phenomenon are the binary gender norms maintained in sports, as well as the masculine domination that prevails in the world of sports. FINCIS produces information on this topic through studies and research.

According to the Finnish Act on Equality between Women and Men, sexual harassment means verbal, non-verbal or physical unwanted conduct of a sexual nature by which a person’s psychological or physical integrity is violated. According to the Gender Equality Barometer published by the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the most common forms of sexual harassment are offensive jokes of a sexual nature, provocative speech and inappropriate remarks related to body or sexuality. Gender-based harassment means unwanted conduct related to a person’s gender, gender identity or expression that creates a hostile, degrading, derogatory, humiliating or harassing environment.

Sexual and gender-based harassment in sports

Studies show that sexual harassment and exploitation occur in sports in general, but female athletes, children and young people, disabled athletes as well as sexual and gender minorities are at particular risk. Sexual harassment manifests itself in sports as verbal and non-verbal harassment, such as unpleasant comments, looks and gestures. Harassment can also be physical, such as unwanted touching. In its most serious form, harassment can meet the essential elements of a sexual offence. Recent research suggests harassment is carried out both by fellow athletes and by coaches. Social media also plays a significant role in sexual and gender-based harassment. 

FINCIS’s role

FINCIS’s mission is to raise discussion and produce information on ethics-related phenomena in sports. The aim is to identify the phenomena and use the information in the sports community when developing operating models to strengthen an ethically sustainable sports culture.

In 2018, FINCIS published a research review titled Vaikeneminen ei ole vaihtoehto  (‘Silence is not an option’; in Finnish only), summarising the latest international research on harassment and bullying concerning sports and exercise. Since 2018, FINCIS has also conducted investigations at the request of sports federations on whether sexual and gender-based harassment and bullying occurs in different sports. FINCIS’s study Harassment in Finnish Competitive Sports (report in Finnish, including English summary) conducted in 2020 produced country-specific information on the prevalence and diversity of the phenomenon. The study on  athletes’ experiences of positive and negative treatment in Finnish competitive sports (report in Finnish, including English summary) published in 2022 also dealt with sexual and gender-based harassment.

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