Responding to the ongoing revelations of sexual harassment and assaults in British politics, the End Violence Against Women Coalition said:
“After days of revelations about sexual harassment and assaults of women activists and workers in British politics, it is clear that a radically new approach is needed to ensuring this behaviour is deterred and stops.
Activists as well as employees in Westminster and beyond
“Action should include new reporting systems and, critically, a commitment to strong leadership until things change. New systems must include unpaid members and activists as well as paid employees, and must apply all over the UK and beyond (eg Brussels), not just in Westminster. It stands the best chance of success if new systems and leadership commitments are cross-party. We implore everyone who cares about equality and fair practice in our politics not to “weaponise” this matter.
Legal review 2014
““When we had a lawyer review the Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem party policies on sexual harassment in 2014 we found them to be “hopelessly inadequate”. The parties had failed to understand that the law on sexual harassment applies to them in their responsibilities towards members and activists as well as paid employees. They all had poor reporting procedures for activists and employees, and were weak in giving guarantees that anyone who reported harassment or assault would not face ‘victimisation’ consequences.
What should be done – independent reporting and adjudication
“The political parties should each provide opportunities to report to a third party, and independent adjudication of complaints. The parties should make cast iron guarantees that no worker or activist will face any detrimental consequences for making an allegation of harassment or assault. Receiving and responding to complaints need to be kept at a clear distance from Whips and senior party officials.
Reject attempts to dismiss “witch hunt”
“Right now, party leaders and all those with influence should also roundly reject the frankly misogynistic attempts to undermine the revelations with the term “witch hunt”, and commit to sticking with developing the new response methods until all those affected say they feel there is improvement.
Why this matters – MPs determine policy for everyone else
“This matters because women in any workplace or social institution should have the right to participate equally and without fear of harassment or assault. But it also matters because MPs and those around them determine policy on women’s equality and the criminal and public services response to violence against women and girls. It is not a coincidence that independent, women-led sexual violence support services, like Rape Crisis Centres, still struggle for funding as no statutory commissioner, from criminal justice through to health and local government, recognises this provision as their responsibility. But they save lives.
Political party practice comparable with clerical abuse
“What we’ve heard about this week horribly resembles the Churches’ response to sexual abuse – using victims’ loyalty to the institution as an extra layer of pressure not to report so as not to damage the cherished broader ‘family’. This in itself is abusive behaviour.
“We are in a moment of enormous change – it is clear the revelations that started with women speaking out against Harvey Weinstein and sharing stories with #MeToo have empowered those in many walks of life. Our political leaders should show they understand this and really choose to set an example to other sectors and lead it.”