A bystander is a person who is present and witnesses something but is not directly involved in it.
A bystander is also someone who is told about an incident or who witnesses sexist or sexually harassing behaviours in an organisation or setting, for example, on public transport, in a workplace, in a pub, in a sports club or on a university campus.
Bystanders can be passive (do nothing) and they can also be active (do something). A bystander could also make things worse by reinforcing, contributing or extending the problem. An active bystander is the one who decides to take action to help other people.
A bystander might be more willing and able to act if they:
A bystander might be unwilling or unable to act. This could be because of:
You can be an bystander by identifying, speaking out about or seeking to engage others in responding to incidents of violence or behaviours, attitudes or practices that contribute to violence.
Disrespect can be talking over women, implying women are less capable than men, or sexualised comments.
Disrespect on the street, transport and at venues can mean someone getting too close, staring and sexual comments, often claiming ‘it’s just a joke’.
Disrespect online can be posts made by other people, or comments on your own posts.
This guide has been developed to help organisations introduce bystander initiatives as part of their work to reduce sexist and sexually harassing behaviours. It explains what bystander action is and outlines four key steps for implementing effective bystander initiatives.