Female politicians suffer widespread sexual harassment and violence


Female politicians across the globe suffer from widespread sexual harassment and violence, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, found that a troubling level of MPs had experience psychological, sexual and physical violence.

The study was based on in-depth interviews with 55 MPs from across 39 countries covering five regions of the world.

Despite the small number of those surveyed, the research found that 81.8 per cent had experienced some form of psychological violence. Some 44 per cent said they had received threats of death, rape, beatings, or abduction during their parliamentary terms, including threats to kidnap or kill their children.

It was also found that 20 per cent of the female MPs said they had suffered sexual harassment during their term, with 7. 3 per cent saying someone tried to force them to have sexual relations. Twenty per cent also said they had been slapped, pushed, struck or targeted by an object that could have injured them, while 12.7 per cent said someone had threatened to use or actually used a firearm, knife or other weapon against them.

The report found that social media was the main outlet where this harassment or violence takes place. 65.5 per cent of those interviewed said they had been subjected to humilitating comments on repeated occasions.

One European MP interviewed said, “One time, over a period of four days, I received more than 500 threats of rape on Twitter.” Meanwhile, an Asian parliamentarian said, “I receive information about my son – his age, the school he attends, his class, etc. – threatening to kidnap him.”

One European MP also described the daily abuse and sexism, saying “if a woman speaks loudly in parliament she is ‘shushed’ with a finger to the mouth…that never happens when a man speaks loudly.”

Martin Chungong, IPU secretary general, said, “This is a survey of a small percentage of women MPs, but it makes clear that the problem is much more widespread and under-reported than we realise.”

“The parliamentary community must speak out against sexism and harassment and make clear that it cannot be tolerated as the price to be paid for women’s political involvement.”

“Parliaments need to put their own house in order if they want to lead by example and stop discrimination and violence against women in all walks of life.”

“The effectiveness of parliaments, progress toward equality between men and women and the vitality of democracy itself all depend on it.”

The report comes as harassment against female politicians is becoming more widely reported. Presidential candidate, Donald Trump has faced growing criticism over his comments about opponent, Hillary Clinton and his sexual and derogatory statements about women.

In the UK, the study comes just months after the murder of MP Jo Cox. Cox died in June this year, after being shot and stabbed in Birstall, West Yorkshire.

About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.
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