Sexual discrimination, harassment, sexual violence and stalking

The guide for the prevention of sexual harassment passed by the University of Konstanz in 1998 was re-issued in 2015 in the form of Guidelines to Combat Discrimination and Sexualized Violence. It includes an updated list of types of discrimination based on the Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz (AGG, general law on equal opportunity). These guidelines are binding for all persons on campus, irrespective of whether they are students, academic staff or academic support staff. Please continue reading to learn more about what constitutes discrimination and sexual harassment:

  • Sexual discrimination describes the disparagement of and discrimination against others based on their gender.
  • Sexual harassment relates to verbal and physical abuse of another person.
  • Sexualised violence includes criminal acts such as coercion and rape. Since these forms of violence have less to do with the satisfaction of sexual needs than with the exercise of power, the term sexual violence has been replaced with sexualised violence.
  • Stalking was added to the German criminal code in 2007. It is regarded as an alternative form of harassment and constitutes a criminal offence. You are being stalked if another person intentionally and repeatedly follows and harasses you, thereby threatening your safety and severely impeding your ability to live a normal life.

The line between friendliness and harassment can be very thin!

Sexual harassment comes in many shapes and guises which differ from each other in type and severity. Often, it starts with seemingly harmless compliments or invitations. Don't let the views of others cloud your judgement. You should not accept statements such as “he just wanted to be nice”, “she’s just into you”, or “don't be like that”. Chances are that when you start feeling anxious about a situation, there is something wrong.

What can you do?

If you are feeling harassed, fight back!

  • Tell the other person that you do not want any further contact with them. Make it clear that you do not want to get to know them better.
  • Draw a line and make sure that the other person understands which kinds of behaviour you will not tolerate (e.g. close physical contact, following etc.).
  • Address the other person as “Mr/Ms xyz”, this will increase the distance between you.
  • Tell your friends and family about the harassment you experienced. Don't keep it all to yourself!
  • Make a note of all instances of harassment (emails, instances of the other person following or touching you without your permission etc.).
  • Perhaps even report the other person to the police if you feel that the overall situation warrants it.
  • You can find information about how to act when experiencing severe forms of harassment on our How to respond to attacks page.

Whom can I contact?

Are you being followed or harassed on or near campus by someone who is a student, researcher, teacher or visitor?

Are you being contacted in person, by phone, email or social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter)?

Please talk to our contact persons for sexual harassment (see contact box). They offer confidential consultations and support. Together, you will work to find solutions as well as suitable measures and sanctions.

How can the University of Konstanz help?

The University of Konstanz does not tolerate discrimination, harassment and violence of any kind. In its guidelines, it has set out a series of both informal and formal measures that victims of discrimination have recourse to. Please be assured that we will take measures that are tailored to your specific needs and safeguard your need for anonymity and protection.

Individuals who harass others will be subject to the following interventions and sanctions:

  • formal interview
  • verbal or written instruction
  • written warning
  • transfer to another workplace (inside or outside the university)
  • exclusion from courses
  • exclusion from using university facilities
  • house ban
  • exmatriculation
  • termination of employment contract with or without notice
  • initiation of disciplinary proceedings and imposition of disciplinary measures, which can include reprimands, fines, pay cuts, transfers or removal from service
  • charges filed by the Rector of the University of Konstanz