Bar & nightlife

Women's rights

The main risks for women in bars or nightclubs concern sexual harassment and exploitation.

In bars and nightclubs, women are particularly exposed to sexual harassment and exploitation by customers, but also by managers or staff members. Bars and nightclubs are also often used as hubs for prostitution. In many tourism destinations, women working in prostitution are victims of human trafficking or have been forced into prostitution out of poverty. Furthermore, women who are exposed to sexually transmitted diseases or other health issues related to their exploitation often do not have access to health institutions or health insurance.

Customers as well as (female) staff are frequently affected by sexual harassment in bars or nightclubs. Often, staff, including security personnel, are not sensitized on sexual harassment issues and dismiss them as an overreaction by victims. Bar and nightclub staff should therefore be trained on how to spot, react to and report issues of sexual harassment.

According to surveys in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, between 15 and 25 percent of all interviewed workers in the hospitality industry (including bars and nightclubs) have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the previous 12 months.

Harassment was mainly on the part of customers, but also experienced by colleagues or managers.

Harassment of young girls or students at bars and nightclubs in the UK is a common phenomenon. According to the article (see link below), sexual harassment happens so frequently that many victims are used to it and do not report it. Students at various universities in the UK have therefore launched campaigns or groups against sexual harassment.

A study carried out by Drinkaware in the UK showed that almost three quarters (72%) of 18-24 year old men and women who drink in bars, clubs or pubs surveyed said that they had seen sexual harassment on a night out. 

79% of women said they expected inappropriate comments, touching and behaviour to take place when they went out – either to themselves or to their female friends. 

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Take action

Training and capacity building

  • Train staff on issues of sexual harassment and exploitation and how to spot incidents, react appropriately and how and where to report them.

Communication and reporting

  • Provide information to customers about sexual harassment and exploitation and how to spot incidents, react appropriately and how and where to report them.

Find more information on potential measures to take on the "take action" site. 

Learn more

Find more information in the Resource Centre.