Gender Equality

Sexual harassment or violence by security guards


In many nations, there is increasing privatization of security to meet the growing demand for security services within communities (including prisons), private businesses, logistics, training, and the procurement and maintenance of arms and equipment. Sexual harassment or violence by security guards may more frequently occur in remote and regional towns where, for example, a foreign mining contractor has engaged security guards for the protection of a mine and its associated property. In remote and regional areas, security guards can often act without fear of any retribution.


Victims of sexual harassment or violence may have few avenues for seeking assistance, reporting or redress. In some cultures, a victim may face isolation and/or abandonment from their family and community following an assault. Fears around reporting are heightened in states where abuses by the police are widespread, and complaints of sexual harassment and violence by police officers are uncommon or common but infrequently pursued.


Therefore, in compliance with the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, businesses should ensure they have an appropriate grievance mechanism for victims to report abuses by security guards or contractors that allows their complaint to be fully and fairly investigated. Disciplinary measures should be taken if complaints are proven. Businesses should ensure there is neither stigma attached to making complaints nor an atmosphere that discourages the reporting of sexual harassment. Grievance mechanisms should be clear, transparent and accessible, and appropriately address cultural or religious sensitivities.


Businesses should ensure all security guards and contractors are trained in human rights principles and sexual harassment policies.

Relevant Human Rights Instruments

Convention concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation, 1958 (No. 111)
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, 1993
Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979



SDG 5.1

Eliminating sexual harassment or violence by security guards can lead to the achievement of SDG 5.1: End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.

SDG 5.2
Eliminating sexual harassment or violence by security guards also furthers SDG 5.2: Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.