Taiwanese women are more likely to encounter verbal abuse in the workplace than men, a study examining workplace violence in the nation indicated.
A research team led by Cheng Ya-wen (鄭雅文), a associate professor in National Taiwan University’s Institute of Health Policy and Management, conducted the survey, questioning 9,509 male and 7,777 female participants about workplace abuse they encountered in the past year.
The types of violence analyzed include physical, verbal and psychological abuse, as well as sexual harassment.
The results showed that the prevalence of physical violence toward men was 0.81 percent, which is higher than that in women at 0.48 percent, Cheng said.
A total of 6.8 percent of men polled said they had experienced verbal violence in the workplace, which is lower than female employees’ 7.48 percent.
Women are also more likely than men to suffer psychological abuse in the forms of threats and social isolation, with 4.06 percent and 3.39 percent respectively saying that they have been victims of this form of violence, the study showed.
Cheng said that compared to physical violence, verbal and psychological abuse are more common in the nation’s workplaces, and women are more likely to be subjected to these forms of abuse than men.
Female employees are also more likely to be the victims of sexual harassment, a phenomenon that can be attributed to gender inequality, she said.
Cheng suggested that workplace psychological abuse is associated with office culture, and can result in long-term stress that can greatly affect employees’ physical and mental health.
The study found that among male workers, security guards are subjected most frequently to verbal, psychological and physical violence.
It also found that problems of verbal violence are common among female workers in finance, commerce, healthcare and customer service sectors.
Healthcare workers are the ones most susceptible to physical violence, the study showed.
Respondents who had experienced workplace violence over the past year were found to be at a higher risk of poor sleep, poor self-rated health status, emotional distress and low job satisfaction, the study said.
Night shifts, longer working hours, greater workloads, greater physical demands, job insecurity and lower workplace justice were found to be risk factors for workplace violence, Cheng said, adding that most victims try to endure the abuse and then quit when they feel overwhelmed.
“This kind of passive reaction to workplace abuse has contributed to its persistence, which then consolidates and becomes the workplace culture,” she added.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (職業安全衛生法), legislated last year, stipulates that: “The employers shall adequately plan and adopt the necessary safety and health measures … to prevent wrongful physical or mental harm caused by the actions of others during the execution of job duties.”
However, “what counts as necessary measures is anyone’s guess,” Cheng said, urging authorities and corporations to take the problem head on and institute regulations on filing complaints and protecting victims of abuse.