Business & Economy

Report flags sexual abuse against women in Australia’s mining sector

Sydney, Australia, Jun 23 (EFE).- An official report on Thursday revealed several incidents of sexual abuse and assaults against women working in the mining sector in West Australia, where multinational giants such as BHP and Rio Tinto run operations along with other companies.

Titled “Enough is Enough,” the report was tabled in West Australia’s regional parliament on Thursday and said that abuse against women working and living temporarily in the remote mining camps of the region were generally ignored, accepted, dodged or covered up in the lucrative industry.

“I was shocked and appalled well beyond expectation by the size and the depth of the problem,” lawmaker Libby Mettam, who headed the investigation, told the parliament.

“This represents a failure of the industry to protect its workers and raises real questions about why the government was not better across this safety issue,” she added, calling the problems part of a systematic pattern of misconduct.

One of the nearly 100 testimonies collected over a year is that of a woman whose supervisor sought to have sex with her in exchange for overlooking a safety investigation over a near-miss incident with a vehicle she was driving. The same woman was separetly told she would have to “get on her knees” if she wanted a permanent job.

Another worker told the committee how she was knocked unconscious in her tent and awoke to find her jeans and underpants around her ankles, while another recounted how when she reported lewd jokes by her colleagues to her supervisor, he responded by hugging and kissing her.

The study also questioned why the government of West Australia and its regulators had received just around 20 complaints of sexual abuse of women in seven years, even though the police had registered as many since 2020.

The report makes 24 recommendations to the industry, including making the companies accountable for preventing these incidents and giving adequate punishments to the perpetrators.

It also recommended exploring the possibility of the government of the region – which accounts for over half of the global iron ore production – considering issuing public apologies and ordering compensations for the victims.

In 2020, the Australian Human Rights Commission said in a report that mining was among the five worst sectors in the country in terms of treatment of women at the workplace.

West Australia, which reported mining export revenue worth AU$ 208 billion (around $143 billion) in 2020-21, employs around 132,800 workers in the sector, according to figures from November 2021 cited by the report. Around 80 percent of these employees were men. EFE


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