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Equality watchdog to review 40 Swedish companies over harassment guidelines

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Equality watchdog to review 40 Swedish companies over harassment guidelines
The Dramaten theatre in Stockholm, one of the organizations to be investigated. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg / TT
08:59 CET+01:00
Thousands of women in Sweden have attested to sexual harassment in the workplace over recent weeks, and now Sweden's Equality Ombudsman will review practices in dozens of companies in a bid to tackle the widespread problems.

The watchdog has drawn up a list of 40 major companies across the media, culture and legal industries where it will review company protocols regarding discrimination and harassment.

"The #MeToo campaign has brought to our attention the fact that [sexual harassment] is so widespread. We knew this before, of course," Clas Lundstedt, the ombudsman's press spokesperson, told the TT newswire.

Lundstedt said that broadcaster TV4 was one of the companies to be included in the review, following a report made to the ombudsman. The broadcaster has temporarily removed presenter Martin Timell from his role following allegations of sexual harassment.

Explaining the decision to extend the review to 40 companies, Lundstedt said: "We have decided that it will be most beneficial if we do a broader check of several companies and organizations, rather than one specific check of a single company which we've had a report about."

"It is about ensuring that the organizations have procedures and guidelines to prevent harassment. And then we will also check how employers act when an employee is harassed by a colleague," he said.

According to Journalisten, the newspaper of the Swedish Union of Journalists, the list also includes the Royal Dramatic Theatre, whose boss recently met with Sweden's Culture Minister after hundreds of actresses spoke out about harassment in the Swedish film and theatre industries.

READ ALSO: 456 Swedish theatre stars share stories of sex harassment

Numerous media organizations will also be reviewed, including Sveriges Radio and the newspapers Aftonbladet, Expressen, Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, and Sydsvenska Dagbladet, according to Journalisten, which cited the ombudsman. This comes a day after thousands of journalists shared their stories of harassment in the industry under the hashtag '#deadline'.

Last week, a similar call for action was launched by over 6,000 women working in law, and both the Swedish Prosecution Authority and the Swedish National Courts Administration will also have their practices reviewed.

Thousands of Swedish women joined the global #MeToo social media campaign launched in the wake of assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, sharing their own experiences of assault, and over the past month a series of 'petitions' calling for concrete action on sexual assault have been created across several different industries in Sweden.

Women working in sport, media, unions, academia, tech, law, politics, music, and theatre are among the many who have spoken out. On Thursday, a petition signed by over 1,700 students or recent graduates alleged assault within Swedish schools.

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