Today, the European Parliament passed a resolution on sexual harassment in the EU and the #MeToo evaluation.

MEPs overwhelming agreed that not enough has been done in the EU and its institutions to tackle sexual harassment.

The #MeToo movement was started by activist and survivor of sexual harassment, Tarana Burke, in 2006. Burke wanted to raise awareness of the extent of sexual harassment experienced by women of colour. But it was not until 2017, when famous white women began using the hashtag, that the movement went viral.

As part of its global appeal, survivors of sexual harassment started speaking out about their experiences online. Staff from the European Parliament raised the institution’s rotten culture where imbalances of power meet job precarity, leaving many workers at risk of losing their jobs if they report harassment by an MEP.

Left MEP María Eugenia Rodríguez Palop (Podemos, Spain): “Harassment is a serious violation of human rights. Yet, it is widespread, under-reported and frequently normalised. It is seen as an individual problem and stereotypes blaming the victim are often used. Victims fear reprisals, victimisation and job loss. A lot still needs to be done inside and outside the European institutions. We have a duty to ensure comprehensive and effective measures to prevent, protect and support victims, to put in place effective reporting mechanisms and procedures avoiding revictimisation and proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.”

Every second woman in the EU, 55%, has experienced sexual harassment since the age of 15. In the workplace, 75 % of women in qualified professions or senior management jobs and 61% of women employed in the service sector have been sexually harassed, whilst 32 % of all survivors in the EU said the perpetrator was a boss, colleague or customer. Of all workers in the EU, health workers are the most likely to be harassed, followed by customer services and personal care workers.

Violence and harassment at work is very often hidden. The International Labour Organisation found that only half of survivors disclosed their experiences and usually only after they experience more than one type of harassment or violence. Young women were twice as likely as young men to have faced sexual violence and harassment, and migrant women were almost twice as likely as non-migrant women to experience sexual violence and harassment.

The Left stands with all survivors of gender-based violence and is committed to preventing and eradicating all forms of harassment. The EU must play its part in ending this culture of impunity, defending survivors and ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice.

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