Why Denmark is facing questions over a culture of sexual harassment in the workplace

A government minister on Friday promised action after hundreds signed a letter of support for a Danish TV host who revealed her experience with workplace sexual harassment.

Why Denmark is facing questions over a culture of sexual harassment in the workplace
View of Copenhagen and the Danish flag. Photo: ERIC BARADAT / AFP

At the end of August, hugely popular 31-year-old TV host Sofie Linde stunned viewers of a live televised gala by revealing that a senior public television executive had offered 12 years ago to boost her career in exchange for oral sex.

“We have to put an end to sexual harassment in the workplace. That's why I invite Sofie Linde, and some of the others behind the letter published in support of her, to a discussion about how to promote a culture where everyone's boundaries are respected in every workplace,” Gender Equality Minister Mogens Jensen wrote on Twitter.

Linde has not disclosed the identity of the executive.

TV presenter Sofie Lund. Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

Part of the debate that ensued focused on Linde's credibility, in a country proud of its reputation as progressive and gender equal, with a female prime minister and where the 2017 #MeToo movement made few waves.

Earlier this week, several journalists wrote a letter in support of Linde, which has since garnered more than 700 signatures.

“We have all experienced it to one extent or another during our careers: inappropriate remarks on our appearance or clothing; suggestive messages; physical behaviour that crosses the line; warnings about the men to steer clear of at the office Christmas party,” the letter reads.

A survey by the journalists' union in 2018 showed that 18 percent of women working in media in Denmark said they had been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace in the past 10 years.

“I don't think I've ever spoken to a woman who has not, at some point or another during her career, been subjected to sexist remarks,” one of the initiators of the letter, journalist Maria Andersen, told public television DR.


Member comments

  1. I find Danish women extremely afraid of men in the streets, especially from foreign men. I don’t remember this type of behaviour from women in other countries l have been. On the other hand they tend to be much more promiscuous than women in most countries. Go figure.

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‘When I said no’: Danish women in campaign against sexual assault victim blaming

Women in Denmark have joined a social media movement responding to victim blaming of women who have suffered sexual violence and harassment.

'When I said no': Danish women in campaign against sexual assault victim blaming
Illustration file photo: Issei Kato/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpi

Using the hashtag #dajegsagdefra, which translates loosely to ‘when I said no’, women have described assault, attacks, violence, harassment and humiliation against them which occurred or continued after they rejected the advances of an attacker.

The hashtag began to trend in response to social media comments suggesting women can avoid being assaulted simply by firmly ‘saying no’ (ved at sige fra). Such comments have been criticised as an attempt to place responsibility for sexual assault, violence and harassment with victims.

The discussion is linked to Denmark’s #MeToo debate, which remains a prominent issue in the country after thousands of women shared stories of sexual harassment in late 2020.


 In the hashtagged tweets, the women describe situations of sexual assault or harassment which escalated after they told the aggressor to stop.

Kirstine Holst, the chairperson of support organisation Voldtægtsofres Vilkår, is among those to have shared personal accounts.

“When I said no I was held by the throat and raped”, Holst’s tweet reads.

Another voice in the Danish debate, Khaterah Parwani, is also among those to have tweeted using the hashtag.

Parwani is director of Løft, an organisation which works against negative social control.

She described several incidents in which she was subjected to violence and abuse after saying no to an aggressor, including being “unrecognisable at hospital” after an attack and “beaten up in a car and lying bleeding on a wet pavement”.

A number of Twitter uses in Denmark also highlighted on Tuesday a report issued by police in North Zealand of an incident in which a 22-year-old man punched and kicked a 15-year-old girl after she asked him to stop whistling at her and friends, and told him her age.

That incident occurred in the town of Espergærde.