MELBOURNE, Australia – Men strut down hallways watching women up and down. Women carrying fake filing cabinets to block unwanted advances. Forced touching, kisses, comments on appearance. Afraid to speak.
An in-depth examination of workplace culture in the Australian Parliament paints a damning picture of rampant sexual harassment, with employees sharing harrowing stories of an alcohol-soaked atmosphere where powerful men have blurred lines and crossed borders in all impunity.
The report, released on Tuesday, was commissioned by the Australian government in March, shortly after the account of a former employee being raped in Parliament sent shockwaves through Australia’s corridors of power. He revealed that a third of parliamentary employees – 40 percent women – had experienced sexual harassment. About 1% of the more than 1,700 people who participated in the review said they had been sexually assaulted or attempted.
In response, Australian Gender Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, who led the study, proposed a series of measures to address power imbalances, gender inequalities and lack of accountability that she says have makes parliament a hostile place to work for many employees, especially young women. members.