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Posted at: Oct 4, 2018, 12:29 PM; last updated: Oct 4, 2018, 12:29 PM (IST)

Sexual harassment takes long-term toll on women’s health

Washington, October 4

Sexual harassment can cause women to have hypertension, depressive symptoms and poor sleep, according to a study which highlights that such incidents remain highly prevalent even a year after the #MeToo movement gained momentum and encouraged women to speak out.

The #MeToo movement officially started in 2007, and was created as a way to publicly demonstrate the widespread problems of sexual harassment and assault in the US.

The movement gained momentum in 2017, largely as a result of the highly publicised sexual assault allegations against several high-profile individuals in Hollywood, including Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman.

The movement has remained strong throughout 2018, forcing a number of accused, high-profile individuals to be fired or resign from their positions.

“It is widely understood that sexual harassment and assault can impact women’s lives and how they function, but this study also evaluates the implications of these experiences for women’s health,” said Rebecca Thurston, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the US.

The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that sexual harassment was associated with higher blood pressure and greater likelihood of hypertension, greater triglycerides, and clinically poorer sleep quality.

Sexual assault was associated with levels of depressive symptoms, anxiety and sleep quality in the ranges consistent with clinical disorders.

In the study involving more than 300 women, researchers sought to identify the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault, as well as their long-term impact on women’s health.

Of the study participants, 19 per cent reported workplace sexual harassment, 22 per cent reported a history of sexual assault, and 10 per cent experienced both exposures.

Women with a history of sexual harassment were more likely to be college educated, and yet have greater financial strain. PTI


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