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Breaking the silence: new survey reveals more than half of Canadian women sexually harassed at work

Mario Canseco of Insights West on a new poll that suggests half of working women in Canada have endured sexual harassment, but less than 30 percent have reported it.

In the wake of the revelations of the #MeToo movement and Time Magazine naming the silence breakers the person of the year, a new survey reveals more than half of women in Canada have experienced sexual harassment at work.

READ MORE: TIME names ‘The Silence Breakers,’ voices behind #MeToo movement, as its Person of the Year

Insights West’s survey found unwanted physical touching, cat calls, being referred to using derogatory or demeaning sexual terms and being pressured for dates were some of the common complaints from women.

Most of these women polled did not report the harassment to a supervisor out of fear they would be seen as trouble makers. Insights West vice president Mario Canseco says it’s not uncommon for women to stay silent when suffering from sexual harassment.

 “Very few of these incidents have been duly reported, partly because there are low expectations for significant action,” said Canseco.

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The survey shows fewer than three in 10 women report workplace sexual harassment.

Insights West polled 451 working women in Canada between Nov. 22 -29 .
Insights West polled 451 working women in Canada between Nov. 22 -29 . Insights West

The Canada Labour code defines sexual harassment as “any conduct, comment, gesture, or contact of a sexual nature that is likely to cause offence, humiliation to any employee, or that might be perceived by that employee as placing a condition of sexual nature on employment or on any opportunity for training or promotion.”

Women in Vancouver and around the world have been taking a stand against sexual harassment with the recent #MeToo rallies that have been taking the social media campaign to the streets.

“#MeToo is about a conversation between survivors, an exchange of empathy… letting people know they’re not alone,” said Jodie Ortega, organizer of the Vancouver #MeToo rally in early November.

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READ MORE: #MeToo rally in downtown Vancouver highlights issue of sexual assault and harassment

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The social media campaign exploded following a tweet by actress Alyssa Milano to call attention to sexual harassment in the film industry, but the recent survey of Canadian women shows that sexual harassment can affect any woman in any workplace.

Activist Tarana Burke initially created the #MeToo campaign 10 years ago in response to sexual violence. Milano and Burke appeared on the Today show Wednesday where Burke said #MeToo is more than a moment: “Now the work really begins.”

WATCH: Time Magazine Editor In Chief Edward Felsenthal along with creator of the #MeToo movement Tarana Burke and actress Alyssa Milano discuss the persons of the year #MeToo movement.

TIME Magazine reveals cover person of the year from #MeToo movement
TIME Magazine reveals cover person of the year from #MeToo movement

READ MORE: COMMENTARY: Me too, but now what?

Insights West says that one in five working women in Canada feels sexual harassment has improved in the last five years, but the recent survey shows that more still needs to be done.

With files from Arti Patel, Nadia Stewart and Reuters