MEPs call for more to be done to tackle sexual harassment in the EU

MEPs call for more to be done to tackle sexual harassment in the EU

Evaluating what EU institutions and countries have done so far to fight against sexual harassment, MEPs call for better reporting procedures and support for victims.

The draft report, adopted by the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee on Tuesday by 28 votes in favour, 5 against and no abstentions, highlights that although governments and organisations have made changes to tackle sexual violence and to support victims since the MeToo movement went viral in 2017, in some EU countries there has been little or no progress.

MEPs call for a common EU definition of sexual violence and harassment to overcome the current fragmentation of protection and rights for victims across the different member states. They also reiterate that gender-based violence should be identified as a new area of crime and sexual harassment treated as a criminal offence.

EU institutions need more stringent sanctions and faster procedures

Sexual and psychological harassment cases in the European Parliament are still under-reported, MEPs point out, because victims do not use the existing channels for fear of retaliation, general distrust in how harassment cases are handled, and due to the lack of a comprehensive system of reporting, support, and care for the victims. More needs to be done to raise awareness of reporting procedures and support available to victims to prevent all forms of harassment, they say. The EU institutions should introduce a network of confidential counsellors and external mediators to provide guidance and support to victims, with cooperation between confidential counsellors in different EU bodies, MEPs say.

Procedures in harassment cases can take years, causing unnecessary harm to the victims, they say. The two Advisory Committees dealing with harassment complaints in the Parliament should conclude cases brought before them as quickly as possible, at the latest within six months, and should continuously inform all parties involved in the procedure. The President should decide on possible sanctions within six weeks of receiving the initial report and communicate this decision to all parties involved prior to any public announcement.

Only 36.9% of Members have attended anti-harassment training so far in this term – 260 out of 705. MEPs want to make this training mandatory and introduce sanctions for Members who do not complete it. They also call for a public list on the Parliament’s website with MEPs that have completed the training and those who have not, and for the certificate of completion to be published on the respective Member’s individual page.

The full House will vote on the text in an upcoming session.


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