LONDON (Reuters) - Nearly one in five people working in Britain’s parliament were sexually harassed or witnessed inappropriate behaviour in the past year, said a report commissioned after a series of sex scandals at Westminster.
The report, published on Thursday, called for a new complaints procedure along with radical change of a culture that can deter some from challenging bosses and suggested forms of punishment for those found guilty of harassing their staff.
“This is a big day for parliament and our politics,” said Andrea Leadsom, leader of the House of Commons lower house of parliament. “The new independent procedure will demonstrate that we want to be the best parliament in the world when it comes to treating everyone who works here with dignity and respect.
“This is a major step in bringing about the culture change that parliament needs.”
Last year, parliament became one of several institutions to become embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal after abuse allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein prompted women and men to share stories about improper behaviour.
Two ministers lost their posts while others in both the governing Conservatives and opposition Labour Party were investigated over allegations of inappropriate behaviour, prompting calls for an end to a “locker room” culture.
The report said 39 percent of the 1,377 responses described experience of non-sexual harassment or bullying in the last year, while 19 percent reported “experience of sexual harassment, including witnessing sexually inappropriate behaviour”. Women reported twice as much as men.
Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Stephen Addison