I had given birth to my baby boy one month earlier when I received an email from my MEP. In it they said that if I wanted to come back to work I would be booking travel and doing their diary, rather than the political and legislative work I had been hired for. There is effectively no protection against this type of discrimination and harassment since MEPs are allowed to organise their office as they wish and frequently pay legislative assistants less than the recommended salary.
At that moment the implications of being a young woman really dawned on me, and I felt this systemic discrimination much more than any minor sexual innuendos which might have come my way.
This was something which not only made me feel vulnerable as a woman but also took away my income, since I was certainly not prepared to go back to work under those conditions, and my MEP knew this beyond a doubt.
My maternity was also the sole reason I was downgraded since I had worked in the office for several years without a hitch.
I realised how dangerous an organisation is to work in when it combines power hungry people with very little protection for employees. I feel very much for all the vulnerable young people who still work there.