Dozens of aides in the British parliament have reportedly fallen victim to bullying, and several female employees have complained about being the victims of sexual abuse, The Huffington Post has reported, citing a survey of staff at Westminster.
A list of potential measures to protect staff, which is currently being considered by a bipartisan working group headed by House of Commons Leader
Andrea Leadsom, includes a new code of behavior and a confidential telephone hotline, as well as counseling support to be offered by a team of independent psychologists.
Eighteen female and one male parliamentary employee have so far lodged official complaints about having been sexually harassed while on the job, and four women said they have been sexually assaulted by a former MP, a visitor to an MP and fellow parliamentary staff.
According to questionnaires sent out to staff working for MPs, anyone who complains about his or her MP’s behavior is almost certain to be fired. Other staff members took a more positive view of their work in parliament, though, describing it as “courteous”, “respectful” and “fascinating.”
Many still believe that the government should do more and introduce a confidential system to log complaints so all parties are treated fairly.
It is also hoped that the current sex scandal, which has ruined the careers of two Cabinet ministers and see three MPs suspended, will help improve behavior in Britain’s corridors of power.
British media have reported on the existence of a list of sexual allegations of around 40 MPs from May's Conservative Party, including six ministers, that was apparently compiled by disgruntled former employees.
The scandal flared up in October 2017, when The Sun wrote that female researchers, secretaries, and aides employed by MPs had set up a Whatsapp texting group to share horror stories about lawmakers’ sexual misconduct.
One MP was described as “not safe in taxis,” while another was characterized as “very handsy.”