Sexual harassment

BFH students and staff treat each other with respect. Sexual harassment in the workplace or at educational institutions violates people’s privacy and dignity and is not tolerated at Bern University of Applied Sciences. This website provides information on this issue, with details of counselling and support services.

Sexual harassment hinders equal opportunities in the workplace and at educational institutions. It can affect the victim’s work performance, and put their job or the completion of their studies at risk.

Sexual harassment is not tolerated at Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH). We at BFH, and senior members of staff in particular, are responsible for maintaining a harassment-free environment. The regulation (available in German) against sexual harassment in the workplace and during studies at the Bern University of Applied Sciences serves as a basis.

Those affected by sexual harassment can receive confidential counselling and support from trusted advisers. Perpetrators of harassment will face sanctions.

What is sexual harassment?

Any behaviour with sexual connotations that is not wanted by the other person and which degrades them on the basis of their gender is considered to be sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment can take various forms, such as:

  • Offensive and uncomfortable comments
  • Sexist phrases and jokes
  • Sharing, displaying or posting of sexist material
  • Physical contact and intrusive behaviour, repeated unwanted invitations
  • Advances accompanied by the promise of a reward or the threat of negative consequences

Flirting or sexual harassment? What’s the difference?

At first, it may seem difficult to draw a clear line between harmless flirting, a friendly interaction and sexual harassment. But there’s one simple rule: the decisive factor is not the intentions of the person doing the flirting, but rather how their behaviour is received by the other person – whether it encroaches on their personal boundaries in an undesirable way.

Flirting Sexual harassment
is a mutual interaction is a one-sided approach
is uplifting, empowering is degrading, offensive
is wanted by both parties is not wanted by the other person
boosts self-esteem undermines self-esteem
makes people happy triggers anger
brightens the working day creates a toxic working environment
respects personal boundaries violates personal boundaries

Source: Sexual harassment in the workplace - A guide for employees

If you have suffered sexual harassment - what should you do?

Say "no"

If you think you are being sexually harassed, have the courage to say ‘no’! And do not blame yourself. You are not responsible for other people’s misconduct. Voice your discomfort, whether to senior members of staff, lecturers, colleagues or fellow students. That is your right. After all, this is about ensuring that your personal boundaries are respected. It’s about your safety in the workplace and at university.

More information

Act quickly and avoid negative consequences

Sexual harassment can have a serious impact on your physical and mental health. By taking action quickly, you can protect your personal integrity and therefore avoid any negative consequences to your professional career and personal development.

Look - Act

BFH calls on all students and staff members to play their part in cultivating a respectful, positive work and study environment that prevents sexual harassment. If you see somebody being harassed, take a closer look and intervene. By doing this, you help to stop incidents of sexual harassment at BFH and prevent absences from work and dismissals. Take responsibility. If you have any questions or need some advice, please contact the services listed below.

What should you do if you observe sexual harassment going on near you? You can help the victim in the following ways:

  • Don’t join in the laughter if someone makes a sexist joke or comment.
  • If you think that someone is being sexually harassed, talk to them.
  • Encourage them to take action to defend themselves.
  • Go with them to talk to a contact in your company or an external advice centre.
  • Don’t do anything that the person concerned does not want you to do.
  • Tell supervisors about the harassment.
  • Agree to be a witness.

Source: Sexual harassment in the workplace - A guide for employees

Contact points

If you think you or someone you know has been affected by sexual harassment, or if you are not sure whether the behaviour you have experienced constitutes sexual harassment, the designated internal and external confidential contacts at BFH can help.


Counselling Centre Universities of Bern

A specially trained external contact is available to provide advice and support to those affected, and also to third parties with knowledge of incidents of sexual harassment:

Movis – an independent point of contact

Members of staff seeking advice and support in a case of suspected sexual harassment may contact Movis, an external, independent counselling firm, on +41 (0)848 270 270. Movis provides its services free of charge to all employees of Bern’s cantonal administration in German, French, Italian and English.​


Departemental contacts

Further confidential advice is provided by the departmental equal opportunities representatives. These advisers have a duty of confidentiality and will not take any action without your express consent.

Sexual Harassment Awareness Day

Every year on March 23, Swiss universities draw attention to sexual harassment in the university context as part of Sexual Harassment Awareness Day (SH2023 for short). BFH participates in this important day of action.​​​​​​​

The goal of the campaign is to preventively counteract sexual harassment and sexism. A culture should be created and cultivated at our university in which there is no place for sexual harassment.