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    Norwegian Trade and Industry Minister Trond Giske speaks during a press conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo on May 11, 2012

    Norwegian Labor Leader Steps Down as #Metoo Claims First Big Scalp

    © AFP 2019 / KAZUHIRO NOGI
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    The international #Metoo campaign, in which hundreds of thousands of women across the globe spoke out against sexual harassment, has borne its first major fruit in Norway. As Labor Party deputy leader and former minister Trond Giske announced his resignation, reports of harassment claims are piling up against other parties.

    Trond Giske, 51, who served in several ministerial roles, including that of church minister, stepped down as Labor Party deputy leader following at least six accusations of sexual misconduct. Giske claimed "the burden that has become too heavy" as the reason for his resignation. He also forfeited his position on the Norwegian parliament's finance committee.

    While the details of the accusations have not been made public, local official Line Oma claimed Giske had pressed her against a wall and kissed her in 2010, during a foreign visit. Giske apologized for his behavior which he claimed he hadn't realized was offensive.

    ​Labor leader Jonas Gahr Støre said both he and his predecessors, including incumbent NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg could have done more to combat sexual harassment within the party, admitting that the rumors which swirled around for years were never properly checked. Støre admitted that the impact of the #MeToo international movement was the turning point. In addition, Støre disavowed Giske's behavior as "not in line with the party's regulations and values." Støre claimed to be particularly appalled by the differences in power and age between Giske and the young women who have filed complaints against him, the Aftenposten daily reported.

    The Giske controversy is a major embarrassment to the Labor Party, which prides itself on being at the forefront of equality issues, and which recorded disappointing results at the last legislative elections in October, after being at the helm of Norway between 2005 and 2013.

    ​More to follow?

    Meanwhile, more resignations are likely to come, as nearly all nine political parties represented in the parliament have been hit with claims of sexual harassment. Most of the cases have reached the public in recent months, as a follow-up to the #Metoo campaign.

    Shortly before Christmas, the Christian Democrats (KrF) issued an apology to 20-year-old Julia Sandstø, a member of its youth group, who had previously claimed harassment, followed by the party's refusal to investigate. Furthermore, KrF officials encouraged her to withdraw her complaint to avoid damaging the party.

    READ MORE: That's Offensive! Norway Finds Bad Jokes Undermine Defense Capacity

    Trine Eilertsen of the Aftenposten daily called youth organizations a "perfect arena" for "grown men hunting for young women," whom she described as "driven by commitment rather than glitter and prestige" and thus being an easy prey for mature politicians.

    Prime Minister and Conservative leader Erna Solberg said her party had five new cases against high-ranking party officials in the wake of the Giske case alone. However, she admitted that they were anonymous and difficult to immediately comment upon.

    READ MORE: #Men Too! Both Genders 'Equally Prone' to Sexual Harassment

    Similarly, the Conservatives' allies from the Progress Party have reported three harassment cases in recent years, while the Liberals, the Greens and Reds had four each. The Socialist Left Party also reported complaints, but didn't provide any specific numbers.

    ​In November, about a thousand artists in Norway, often considered one of the world's most gender-equal countries, denounced rape, assault and harassment in a series of manifestos published in the Norwegian media.

    READ MORE: Armed and Dangerous: One-Fifth of Finnish Defense Claim Sexual Harassment


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    MeToo, sexual harassment, Jens Stoltenberg, Jonas Gahr Store, Trond Giske, Scandinavia, Norway
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