New Study Finds One in Ten Low-Income Women Experience Sexual Harassment From Their Landlords

A new study from the University of Missouri has found that 10 percent of low-income women experience sexual harassment from their landlords. The research was led by Rigel Oliveri, the Isabelle Wade and Paul C. Lyda Professor of Law at the University of Missouri School of Law.

For her study, Oliveri interviewed a large group of randomly selected, low-income women living in private rental housing. Out of the participating women, 10 percent reported being sexually harassed by their landlords. The harassment included being asked to trade sex for rent, lewd comments, home invasions, and indecent exposure. The women were almost all in their 20s at the time of the incidents and were disproportionately likely to be members of racial and ethnic minority groups. According to Professor Oliveri, of the women who experienced harassment, only one reported the incident to the police. The others said they did not tell anyone because they feared jeopardizing their housing or did not know where to direct their complaint.

Professor Oliveri stresses that a larger-scale survey needs to be done to fully understand this issue. She hopes that her research will lead to law and policy changes that provide greater landlord oversight and more public housing options for low-income women.

“The Me Too movement has sparked an important national discussion about the prevalence of sexual harassment in American society and the ways in which powerful people can use their positions both to exploit their vulnerable targets and to escape the consequences of their actions,” Professor Oliveri said. “This conversation is a necessary starting point, but the focus on high-status workplaces overlooks other contexts in which sexual harassment occurs.”

Professor Oliveri holds a bachelor’s degree in political and social thought from the University of Virginia and a juris doctorate from Stanford Law School.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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