Women law­mak­ers face sex­ism, vi­o­lence on job

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Women mem­bers of par­lia­ment (MPs) in all re­gions face sex­ism, ha­rass­ment and vi­o­lence from male law­mak­ers and are in­creas­ingly tar­geted by on­line hu­mil­i­a­tion cam­paigns, a re­port said yes­ter­day. The first study on the is­sue by the In­ter-Par­lia­men­tary Union (IPU) fol­lows scan­dals in France and other coun­tries where women have de­nounced abuse in the cor­ri­dors of power.

Sex­ist vi­o­lence and ha­rass­ment against women law­mak­ers is “real and wide­spread”, the re­port said. The find­ings sug­gested “that the phe­nom­e­non knows no bound­aries and ex­ists to dif­fer­ent de­grees in ev­ery coun­try, af­fect­ing a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of women par­lia­men­tar­i­ans”. The re­sults were based on data pro­vided by 55 women par­lia­men­tar­i­ans of all ages who were se­lected from 39 coun­tries in five re­gions.

Four out of five of the women re­ported hav­ing been sub­jected to hos­tile be­hav­ior caus­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal harm or fear. Some 44.4 per­cent said they had re­ceived threats of death, rape, beat­ings or ab­duc­tion dur­ing their terms. “The re­spon­dents said that most of these acts were com­mit­ted by their male col­leagues - from op­pos­ing or their own par­ties,” it said. Be­ing un­der 40, or be­long­ing to the op­po­si­tion or a mi­nor­ity group, are “ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tors” that put women at risk, ac­cord­ing to the study by the Geneva-based body that links 171 na­tional par­lia­ments.

The IPU called for male and fe­male MPs to de­nounce such be­hav­ior and for codes of con­duct and com­plaint pro­ce­dures to be put in place. Fe­males ac­count for 22.8 per­cent of some 46,000 par­lia­men­tar­i­ans world­wide. “The re­port ... is an eye-opener, it’s the first of its kind. We have gone out to in­ter­view mem­bers of par­lia­ment, to have their own per­sonal per­spec­tives, from their own ex­pe­ri­ence,” Martin Chun­gong, IPU sec­re­tary-gen­eral, told a news brief­ing. “We are look­ing at how we can help re­solve some of these is­sues, be­cause they are ac­tu­ally a stum­bling block to po­lit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion of women,” he said.

Women law­mak­ers en­dure hos­tile be­hav­ior and sex­ist vi­o­lence in par­lia­men­tary of­fices and po­lit­i­cal meet­ings, as well as the newer are­nas cre­ated by so­cial me­dia, the re­port said. Women MPs from sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa, Asia, Europe and the Mid­dle East “de­scribed pho­tomon­tages show­ing them nude, pho­tos of them ac­com­pa­nied by dis­parag­ing com­ments, ob­scene draw­ings of their per­son or in­for­ma­tion pub­lished in the so­cial me­dia sug­gest­ing that they had had mar­i­tal prob­lems and failed pri­vate lives,” the re­port said. —Reuters

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