Women's Groups & Unions calls for suspension of the MP arrested for rape

Parliament told they must get their own house in order if they are to tackle widespread sexual harassment in the workplace

EVAW has supported the call for the Conservative MP arrested for rape to face immediate suspension pending a full investigation. The statement published yesterday (04.08.20) led by Fawcett, was also signed by TUC, Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis England & Wales and trade unions representing staff in parliament — Prospect, Unite, PCS and the FDA as well as others.

It states:

“The House of Commons should be no different from any other workplace. Safety and the safeguarding of staff must be paramount. Failure to suspend is yet another example of minimising violence against women and girls and failure to believe victims and survivors when they bravely speak out.”

Sarah Green, Director of EVAW, says:

“It is so disappointing that more than two years after the emergence of multiple sexual harassment and assault allegations in and around Westminster, the process for handling them and protecting staff is still not good enough. And, the alternative route this woman has now sought – reporting to the police – is extremely fraught. There can be considerable intrusion into mobile phones & medical records, and months of waiting for charging decision & all the while a victim is not allowed to have therapy.

We need all those in positions of authority here to acknowledge how widespread sexual violence is, and not to create an atmosphere which intimidates and silences victims, or effectively makes it harder for them to carry on with their lives.”

The statement also calls for:

  • The Conservative Party to suspend the whip of the MP. As the EHRC ‘Sexual harassment and harassment at work’ Technical Guidance makes clear, in a matter as serious as this, it is wholly appropriate for such action to be taken ahead of the conclusion of a criminal investigation. 
  • The media to respect the alleged victims’ right to anonymity and justice.
  • If the alleged victim works, or previously worked, within the House of Commons, both Parliament and the Conservative Party must ensure she is being supported by an accredited Independent Sexual Violence Advisor via the Independent Sexual Misconduct Advisory Service and her union if she is a member of one.
  • Political parties to revise their own internal sexual harassment and complaint policies to ensure that they are transparent, quick, victim-focused and independent, and cover volunteers, employees and elected and appointed representatives so that sexual harassment is prevented. The parties’ own systems for dealing with complaints should be made publicly available and include specific protocols and training for the Whips or Chief Whip on how to respond to disclosures appropriately
  • Parliament to ensure that MPs and volunteers have access to the same legal protections against sexual harassment as other employees. MPs, Peers and volunteers are not currently protected as they are not employees.
  • The Government Equalities Office to publish its response to the consultation on a new preventative duty to end workplace sexual harassment.
  • The government to ratify ILO Convention No.190 on eliminating gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work

 

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