Corruption and Gender Inequality in the Age of #MeToo (Council on Foreign Relations, 28/08/2018) Last fall, women and girls from all over the world shattered the silence around sexual harassment and assault when they proclaimed, “This has happened to me too.” The #MeToo movement pushed long-ignored realties to the forefront. It demonstrated that these phenomena are as common as they are devastating, and brought attention to the ways in which people in positions of power abuse their authority. The movement has also created an opportune moment to explore the interplay between corruption and gender. (continue reading)
Google Engineers Are Organizing A Walkout To Protest The Company’s Protection Of An Alleged Sexual Harasser (Buzzfeed, 31 October 2018) A group of more than 200 engineers at Google are organizing a companywide “women’s walk” walkout for later this week to protest recent revelations about the search giant’s protection of employees that had allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct, according to four people familiar with the situation inside Google. (continue reading)
How #MeToo Has Spread Like Wildfire Around the World, Newsweek, December 2017
United Nations: Overview of sexual harassment legislation and policies
UNITED NATIONS DOCUMENTS RELEVANT TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT
UN Secretary General’s bulletin to staff ST/SGB/2008/5 on ‘PROHIBITION OF DISCRIMINATION, HARASSMENT, INCLUDING SEXUAL HARASSMENT, AND ABUSE OF AUTHORITY’, from 11 February 2008. See in particular,
Section 3 on duties
duties of managers and supervisors (3.2) and duties of heads of department/office (3.3)
Section 4 (preventive measures)
Section 5 (corrective measures)
individual encouraged to deal with the problem as early as possible (5.1)
individuals encouraged to keep a written record of events, noting dates, places, a description and names of witnesses… (5.1)
can opt for an informal or a formal process
managers and supervisors have the duty to take prompt and concrete action in response… Failure to take action may be considered a breach of duty… (5.3)
Aggrieved individuals are encouraged to notify the offender but are not required to do so (5.5)
‘Formal resolution may also be initiated by the submission of a report of prohibited conduct from a third party who has direct knowledge of the situation […]. (5.11)
Section 6 (monitoring)
‘The Secretary-General shall include in the annual circular informing staff of his practice in disciplinary matters information on case where discrimination, harassment, including sexual harassment, and abuse of authority have been found. The information circular shall also inform staff of the most common examples of prohibited conduct and their consequences, including any disciplinary or legal action taken, with due regard to the privacy of the staff member concerned.’ (Annual information circular, 6.6)
The other UN SG’s bulletins of relevance here are following:
UN Secretary General’s bulletin to staff ST/SGB/2017/2 (Rev1) on ‘PROTECTION AGAINST RETALIATION FOR REPORTING MISCONDUCT AND FOR COOPERATING WITH DULY AUTHORIZED AUDITS OR INVESTIGATIONS’, from 20 JANUARY 2017.
UN Secretary General’s bulletin to staff ST/SGB/2005/20 on ‘PREVENTION OF WORKPLACE HARASSMENT, SEXUAL HARRASMENT AND ABUSE OF AUTHORITY’, from 28 NOVEMBER 2005 (on the introduction of mandatory learning programme for all staff)
Sexism, harassment and violence against women parliamentarians, Inter-Parliamentary Union, 2016: Key findings on procedures in national parliaments worldwide. This 2016 IPU survey looked at how parliaments have tried to tackle sexual harassment, for example, through strengthening internal mechanisms and procedures.
Standing orders and codes of conduct
Only 35.8 per cent of the parliaments participating in the study said their institutions’ regulations or codes of conduct contained provisions governing unacceptable member behaviour or acts of intimidation to which women parliamentarians might be subjected.
Only four of those parliaments – those of South Africa, Canada, Costa Rica and Thailand – have provisions that explicitly protect members against sexist remarks, sexual harassment and threats of violence from other members.
Sexual harassment policy and complaint settlement procedures
Only 21.2 per cent of the parliaments participating in the study said they had a policy on sexual harassment against members of parliament;
28.3 per cent said they had a procedure for settling complaints.
For parliamentary staff, 48.1 per cent of these same parliaments said they had a sexual harassment policy in place, and
52.8 per cent said they had a procedure for settling complaints about such harassment.
Good practices: parliamentary codes of conduct with respect to sexual harassment: the examples of Costa Rica and Canada
The aim of the initiatives in these two countries is to have a complaint mechanism that is independent of the political process. In Costa Rica, “the commission responsible for investigating cases is composed of the parliament’s director of human resources, a health professional and an attorney, as well as their alternates. This commission can ask the Mediator of the Republic to make available a specialist in this area for support at the start of proceedings. Parliamentarians, in parallel with this procedure, need to file a complaint with the court.”
In Canada, the procedure is confidential. Complaints or requests for mediation are addressed first to the human resources director for the House of Commons. The director can hire an external investigator to determine whether sexual harassment has occurred. In addition, all House Members must now sign a document undertaking to keep the work environment free of sexual harassment and to respect the code of conduct in that regard. Training sessions on the sexual harassment policy are also organized for MPs and employees. See more on Canada below.
In 2012, Bolivia adopted a law on harassment and political violence against women, providing for sanctions against any physical, psychological or sexual aggression or any form of pressure, persecution, harassment or threat towards a woman elected to or holding public office. In May 2016, the Bolivian law was bolstered by a decision of the Ministry of Justice to prohibit people with backgrounds of violence against women from running for political office.
Bolivia, Ley No. 243 contra el acoso y violencia política hacia las mujeres, 2012.
Text of the law (in Spanish)
Summary of the law (in Spanish)
Identified as a vanguard initiative in the region
Mexico followed the Bolivian example by amending its law on violence against women and its electoral legislation to incorporate a definition of acts of political violence against women.
Mexico, Ley General de Acceso de las Mujeres a una Vida Libre de Violencias et Código Federal de Instituciones y Procedimientos Electorales, 2013.
The House of Commons Policy on Preventing and Addressing Harassment, approved in December 2014, applies to all MPs, House officers, research officers and all their attached staff. In March 2018, the policy was updated so that a member of parliament who is found to have harassed an employee, sexually or otherwise, will no longer have their legal fees reimbursed, whilst there will be more financial support for complainants. Mandatory awareness-raising training on harassment and sexual harassment is also to be introduced for MPs.
Following a number of sexual harassment and assault allegations, Canada’s House of Commons also decided to investigate ways of tackling workplace harassment more effectively. A new Bill that will apply to all federally regulated workplaces, including parliament, banks, and the telecommunications and transport industries was passed in June 2018. It will impose new obligations on MPs and their offices. Regulations should be in place by the autumn of 2019.
How will the new legislation ensure powerful people are not shielded?
First of all each employer, and that would be each MP, each Parliamentarian, but also federally regulated employers will be required to have a policy that will spell out how they will address the issue of harassment and sexual violence in the work place. They will be required to provide training for all of their staff so all the people know what harassment is, and what to do in fact if it happens, and how to have a respectful workplace. They will be compelled to take action if in fact somebody comes forward. They will be compelled to have a third-party available so that if the person is being harassed by their employer, they will have another person that they can go to and talk about their concerns. And finally, they will be compelled to take action to support people who are experiencing harassment. At no time does this replace the criminal code. So if someone has experienced something that they feel is a threat to their safety or violated the criminal code, they are encouraged to go forward to law enforcement.
Extended interview: Patty Hajdu on tackling harassment in federal workplaces, CTV News January 2018
For further information see:
• How Canada’s Parliament deals with sexual harassment claims, Global news, September 2017
• Bill C-65: An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1
• Bill C-65: Here’s what the anti-harassment bill does and how it will affect you, Global News, 29 January 2018
• House passes bill aimed at tackling harassment in federal workplaces, 7 May 2018
Political parties urged to provide sexual harassment policies, Eyewitness News, July 2018
CAPE TOWN – The Dullah Omar Institute’s Women and Democracy Unit is putting the spotlight on political parties requesting copies of their sexual harassment policies. The institute, Lawyers for Human Rights, and gender violence specialist Lisa Vetten embarked on a campaign during the 16 Days of Activism last year called #NotOurLeaders. The aim of the drive is to highlight inaction or inconsistent action of political parties to demonstrate the gap between political-speak and political actions on sexual violence.
The Dullah Omar Institute says the #NotOurLeaders campaign has written repeatedly to all nine provincial legislatures and four of the country’s largest political parties requesting copies of their sexual harassment policies. However, the responses were poor. The institute’s Vivienne Mentor-Lalu says the unit has only received policies from the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape so far. “They say they take violence against women and women’s rights seriously, we want to see what do they have on paper so that we can actually see [whether] they are implementing it? Is it sufficient and how they handle complaints?”
Mentor-Lalu adds that throughout Women’s Month, the campaign will send formal legal requests for the outstanding information to those political parties and provincial structures who remain silent. They will have 30 days to respond.
The Irony of Brett Kavanaugh’s #MeToo Moment | Opinion (Newsweek, 19/09/2018) An allegation of sexual assault has rocked the already contentious confirmation hearing of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey Ford says she was a high school student when Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and tried to force himself on her in front of one of his friends at a party in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has described the allegations as “completely false.” (continue reading)
Fem kända fall – de har tvingats bort efter #metoo (Svenska Dagbladet, 18/09/2018) En världskänd skådespelare, en inflytelserik OS-landslagsläkare och tunga medieprofiler – alla har tvingats lämna sina tjänster efter anklagelser om sexuella trakasserier. Nu riskerar Brett Kavanaugh, som nominerats till USA:s högsta domstol, att gå samma öde till mötes. (continue reading)
McDonald’s Workers Across the U.S. Stage #MeToo Protests (The New York Times, 18/09/2018) In a St. Louis suburb, they chanted, “Hold your burgers, hold your fries. Keep your hands off my thighs.” In Chicago, they had blue duct tape that said “MeToo” covering their mouths. And in Kansas City, Mo., they held signs bearing the same anti-sexual harassment hashtag with the first letter styled to look like the McDonald’s golden arches. (continue reading)
House approves mandatory sexual harassment training, some pushing broader reforms, USA Today 29 November 2017
Legislation requiring sexual harassment prevention training for members of Congress and their staff passed the House Wednesday afternoon but some lawmakers say much more needs to be done to address the problem on Capitol Hill. Some members say significant changes are needed in the complaint process which they say lacks transparency and can be long and confusing.
Senate approves new sexual harassment policy for Congress, Jordain Carney, The Hill, 24 May 2018
The bi-partisan bill, from Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), would reform the reporting process for victims of sexual harassment and would make members of Congress personally liable for any settlements. The bill will now be passed to the House, which adopted its own legislation last year. However, critics say the bill does not go far enough to hold lawmakers accountable and protect staff members from misconduct and discrimination.
Critics blast Senate harassment bill as soft on lawmakers
The plan was nonetheless hailed by supporters like Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand as a step forward. Politico 23 May 2018
House, Senate May Go Separate Ways on Anti-Harassment Policy, Bloomberg Government, 26 July 2018
The House and Senate are so far apart in negotiations over a sexual harassment policy that Congress might end up with two different standards. The House and Senate voted on separate harassment policies (S. 2952 and H.R. 4924) earlier this year. Instead of formally going to conference lawmakers decided to try informal discussions.
H.R.4155 – Congressional Sexual Harassment Training Act, 115th Congress (2017-2018) If passed, this bill, introduced on 26 October 2017, would amend the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 to require employees to be enrolled in a mandatory training program on protections against sexual harassment.
All 22 Female Senators Push Congress On Sexual Harassment Reform
The bipartisan group says it’s “unacceptable” that the Senate has failed to fix sexual harassment policies involving lawmakers and staffers. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/all-22-female-senators-push-congress-on-sexual-harassment-reform_us_5abb8443e4b06409775bad29?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004
What the new plan to deter Capitol sexual harassment really addresses—and avoids
It does not happen only to women!
Terry Crews detailed his alleged sexual assault by a Hollywood agent in testimony Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee as he spoke in support of the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights.
Members to be offered sexual harassment training
The government reached a settlement with a former staff member of the Speaker who had accused the Speaker of sexual harassment and the government of not providing a safe workplace. As part of the settlement, the government said it would implement an improved education programme for staff employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 concerning the process by which issues of bullying and harassment can be brought to its attention and remedied. It would also offer specific training for members and senators in relation to issues of sexual harassment.
• Letter: [From the Australian Government Solicitor to Harmers Workplace Lawyers], 26 Sept. 2012 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-09-28/settlement-letter-from-the-commonwealth-to-james-ashby/4285970
• Press release: Statement in relation to James Ashby v Commonwealth matter, 28 Sept. 2012 http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/Media-releases/Pages/2012/Third%20Quarter/28-September-2012-Statment-in-relation-to-the-James-Ashby-V-Commonwealth-Matter.aspx
• Media article: Commonwealth settles in James Ashby case, ABC News, 28 Sept. 2012 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-09-28/james-ashby-settlement/4285736
Sexual harassment policies covering Australian political staffers ‘incomprehensible’ , Women’s Agenda, 17 December 2017
Women’s Agenda looked at the policy and procedures that apply to Federal politicians and their staff and found them woefully inadequate – “incomprehensible” is the exact term a very experienced employment lawyer we consulted with used.
More news on the MeToo movement worldwide:
From Women Around the World and Women and Foreign Policy Program
Corruption and Gender Inequality in the Age of #MeToo
Panelists at CFR roundtable Corruption, Gender Inequality, and the #MeToo Movement addressed the need to mainstream gender into anti-corruption efforts and discussed the impact of gendered forms of corruption, such as “sextortion”—a term that describes the abuse of power to obtain sexual benefits.
#MeToo, one year on. A movement sparked by an alleged rapist could be the most powerful force for equality since women’s suffrage https://www.economist.com/leaders/2018/09/27/metoo-one-year-on