News from

Incidents of sexualised harassment have been reported at the University Library as well as in the lecture hall building on the Augustusplatz campus. The response has been swift: the victims have been spoken to and the police notified, while University staff and the security team have been made aware of the issue. At its meeting on 8 February, the Senate approved the establishment of a working group to deal with sexual discrimination and violence. In this interview, Georg Teichert, Head of the Office for Equality, Diversity and Family Affairs, discusses the issue in depth.

Where does sexualised harassment begin?

Sexualised discrimination and violence means unwanted behaviour of a sexualised nature that has the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of the person affected. This can already start with using public computers to view pornographic material, for example, or with verbal assaults. And the reactions to the recent incidents in the University Library and the lecture hall building on the Augustusplatz campus show just how distressed the victims feel.

What should people do in such situations?

Refuse to be a victim. Do not try to just escape from the situation and pretend it never happened, as the perpetrator may view this as a success and feel empowered in their behaviour. Defend yourself, if you can, against sexualised discrimination or violence in work or study settings. Courage breeds respect. People who commit acts of discrimination have usually attracted negative attention before, without anyone confronting them.

If you calmly and firmly reject intrusive behaviour, this may well earn you respect. Respond to the person clearly, calmly and confidently. Speak slowly and loudly enough for those around you to hear. In this way, you can make it clear to the person in question that you feel you are being discriminated against in a sexualised manner. Announce consequences. Write down everything you remember about the assault. Try to find someone you trust to plan what to do next.

It is important not to blame yourself. Only the discriminating person is responsible for their actions. It won’t damage your own reputation or career if you clearly say no or make a complaint. You should take your feelings seriously and react decisively.

What if someone is afraid of pressing charges?

Seek help. Get confidential support from friends, colleagues and the advisory services available at Leipzig University. I strongly encourage you to report any incident where you feel your dignity has been violated as a result of sexualised harassment or violence.

What support services does the University provide? What preventive measures are in place?

The most important preventive measure we can take is to raise awareness by informing people. In order to raise awareness of sexualised discrimination and violence and to make information available to those who need it, the Office for Equality, Diversity and Family Affairs offers the faculties the possibility to integrate the themed page #esgehtunsan into their websites via a web tool. This web page will soon also be available in English.

The equal opportunity commissioners at the various University institutions are receiving further training on referrals, since they are often the first point of contact in cases of sexualised discrimination or violence.

In order to make concrete assistance in the event of incidents of sexualised discrimination or violence visible at the respective locations across the University, the Office for Equality, Diversity and Family Affairs is currently developing an information package on what to do in an emergency, which can be tailored to the individual sites.

Furthermore, the Studentenwerk Leipzig and the University’s Student Council also offer initial psychological consultations. Members of staff can contact the Occupational Health Management team (internal link) for psychosocial counselling services.


No comments found!

Your comment

Please leave a comment. Please note our netiquette.