'I was 16, I didn't know I was sexually harassed' - Sheffield woman speaks out about abuse in hospitality sector

Just like any other 16-year-old, Stephanie* was excited to get her first experience in the hospitality sector in Sheffield and looked forward to meeting new people and making new friends.

By Rahmah Ghazali
Thursday, 20th May 2021, 12:36 pm

Little did she know, at such a young age, that it was also her first experience being sexually harassed and she had no clue that it was wrong.

She said: "I was still young - so it was quite bizarre. I received a lot of inappropriate comments but it never got taken any further than that.

"On a few occasions, I had my bum touched quite a lot and hit on a few times. I got called c**t a couple of times too.

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Individuals behind 'Know the Line' campaign that is set to take place starting May 17 when the hospitality sectors fully reopen.

"I also received comments about my body and stuff that were really inappropriate. Also, one of my (older) colleagues invited me round his house, I was only 16. I didn't go obviously."

Now 20, Stephanie said she first got her job through her father's connections, and the uncomfortable situation had put her in a difficult place, every time she felt like speaking up.

"I needed the job then and my dad's friend's relative was the boss. If I said something it would have been harsh on my dad.

"I didn't know what happened to me was sexual harassment then. I knew it was wrong, but wasn't sure what to make of it.

"But looking back, definitely it was sexual harassment and I never really said anything about it. I just pushed it under the carpet really.

"At one point, when I wanted to speak out, I got called not very nice things and it made me question myself particularly at that age, it feels like you're overreacting about everything," she said.

And with the launching of 'Know the Line' campaign in Sheffield, Stephanie however said such initiative should have been done a lot sooner.

"We need to protect these young girls, especially the 16-year-old up to 18-year-old. It happens quite a lot to them.

"Hopefully with the campaign going on at the moment, sexual harassment is not being tolerated anymore and it's great to know that employers are taking this more seriously." she said.

*Please note name has been changed to protect identity.