Sex scandals in politics never really go away, but this most recent one seems set to change the course of politics in Britain. Rather than holding one politician to account, it threatens to blow the lid off the sinister and seedy sexual underworld that is apparently rife in Westminster.
There has been a list released of almost 40 Tory MP’s, many of whom are accused of being ‘handsy’ or innappropriate.
As a sidenote, some on the list are accused of having affairs or random consentual sexual encounters and, though embarrassing, these are neither illegal nor in the pulic interest. The list, in truth reads more like blackmail material and it has been suggested by some that this is the case. This doesn’t help the victims and doesn’t hold the perpetrators to account in a decent way. If there is any truth in this, the Tory party should be ashamed and exposed.
None of the matters have been reported to the police so, thus far, there are no criminal investigations. I’m hoping that this will soon change.
Just yesterday, a Labour activist, Bex Bailey, came forward with a story that she had been raped and encouraged to keep it to herself. Today, Damian Green is denying making sexual advances towards a Tory activist named Kate Maltby. I feel like this story will continue to grow and that more prominent political figures will be outed as sexual predators.
There are many who are calling this a witch-hunt on both sides of the political spectrum and whilst I agree that there are those who would lie and exaggerate, we must not let this cloud out judgement and each of these allegations must be taken seriously.
There are those who suggest touching knees isn’t sexual assault and that some men are just more touchy that others, but it’s harmless. This is nonsense. If a woman is made to feel uncomfortable because a man is touching her then it’s not necessarily sexual abuse, but it’s certainly sexually innappropriate and nobody should be subject that, especially in the workplace. If they are, victims of innappropriate behaviour should have a department to which they can report these incidents where they will be taken seriously and fully investigated. This is standard practice for most businesses, so why is this not the case in politics? Like the expenses scandal before this, there seems to be one set of rules for them and another for the rest of us. Unfortunately, in this case, it’s not just a few pence out of our tax that’s being misspent. This is a crisis that can impact individual lives through crimes as serious as rape and forced abortion. Something needs to change quickly.
Firstly, members need a safe palce to report innappropriate behaviour. They should be able to do this anonymously and without fear od repurcussion. Those named should be dealt with quickly and effectively and not put on a list designed for blackmail. Secondly, if necessary, the victims should be encouraged to go to the police. This shouldn’t even have to be spoken. If a woman is sexually assaulted or raped, she should be able to go to the police. Nobody – no celebrity and no politician – is above the law. Thirdly, there should be no place for publicly subsidised bars in Parliament. Lastly, the public need to stop demonising victims and change their attitudes towards innappropriate sexual behaviour. If a woman is made to feel uncomfortable, then the behaviour is unnacceptable, intentional or not. There is not debate. That is a fact.
I hope that this recent explosion of woman coming forward about their own experiences with assault keeps up. I hope it makes men realise that their actions, whatever the intention, can have devastating effects on women and that we can all change to become better, more aware and more caring.